First Published: 2008-03-15

Gulf to step up fight against human trafficking

Qatar conference calls for Arab agreement to combat human trafficking in all its forms.


Middle East Online

Low-paid Asian workers are vulnerable to abuse

DOHA - A conference in Qatar on human trafficking has urged Arab states to step up the fight against the scourge, seen as widespread in the pro-Western oil-rich Gulf region.

Delegates called for an agreement within the framework of the Arab League "to combat human trafficking in all its forms," according to a statement issued at the close of the conference late on Thursday.

They urged the Riyadh-based secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to take the lead in boosting "coordination and cooperation among member states to enhance measures to fight human trafficking."

The two-day conference was organised by Qatar and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, with the participation of representatives of the United Nations Children's Fund, jurists and human rights organisations.

Delegates called for "a network to exchange information and expertise on combating human trafficking under the supervision of the Arab League," and the inclusion in school and university curricula of material on fighting the phenomenon.

Five of the six GCC member states -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia -- are on a blacklist of countries trafficking in people.

GCC countries, which also include the United Arab Emirates, are close allies of the United States.

International human rights groups have also highlighted the problem of human trafficking in the Gulf area, which hosts more than 13 million expatriates, many of them unskilled and low-paid Asian workers vulnerable to abuse.

Three other Arab countries -- Algeria, Sudan and Syria -- are on the list of worst offenders.

Qatar-based Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi told the conference human trafficking was banned under Islam. He slammed companies that bring in "migrant workers, give them a bare minimum of wages and pen them up like sheep" in crammed rooms as living quarters.

Nihal Fahmi, of the regional office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said annual profits from human trafficking come second to gains from drug trafficking, at 31 billion dollars.

She said the UN estimates that around 27 million of the world's people live in a state of servitude, with "around 100,000 women and children victims of sexual exploitation."

According to other UN estimates, around 2.5 million people -- 80 percent of them women and children -- are being trafficked around the world at any given time for such purposes as forced labour, sexual exploitation, the removal of organs and body parts, forced marriages, child adoption and begging.

The estimates also put annual global profits from trafficked forced labour at 31.6 billion dollars.


Tunisia under state of emergency

Turkey downs Russia Su-24 fighter jet on Syria border

Lavrov says no war with Turkey after 'planned provocation'

Brussels extends terror alert as US issues worldwide travel warning

Somali pirates seize Iran fishing boat with 15 crew

Missing Iranian diplomat found dead in Saudi

Heavy Russia raids at site of Syria plane crash

Tunisia declares state of emergency after terrorist attack in heart of capital

Bahrain calls HRW torture report 'misleading'

Syria, Russia foreign ministers set Moscow talks

Rival Libya tribes sign peace deal to end months of fighting

Turkey reveals new cabinet of Erdogan allies

Hopes fade away as Sudan peace talks break without deal

At least 6 dead in Libya bomb attack

ISIS suicide bombers kill four in assault on Sinai hotel

Kerry visits Israel with scant hopes for major breakthrough

Hollande heads to Washington to seek support for war on ISIS

UAE blames Islamists for delay in military operation in Taez

Egypt kills 5 Sudanese migrants near border with Israel

Anti-Muslim hate crimes rise 300 percent in Britain

Russia eases restrictions on nuclear cooperation with Iran

Gulf leaders to hold annual summit on December 10

Ex-Gathafi Minister arrested over murder of UK policewoman

UK boosts military spending as pressure grows to join anti-ISIS strikes

Israel bars Palestinians from West Bank settlement bloc

Iraq suspends northern flights due to danger posed by Russia missiles

Syria army advances against ISIS in central province of Homs

Pro-Kurdish leader escapes assassination attempt in Turkey

Tunisia group claims beheading of young shepherd on behalf of ISIS

Kerry arrives in Abu Dhabi for Syria discussions

Three Palestinians killed as fresh violence hits West Bank

Iran arrests ISIS-linked cell near Iraq border

Brussels remains on high alert for second day in a row

Israel seeks to strip citizenship of those who join ISIS

France warns Libya as ISIS gains ground

Fear escalates as ISIS edges closer to Syria Christian town

Iran sentences reporter Jason Rezaian to prison

Egyptians vote in second phase of parliamentary elections

Assad grateful to Russia as army advances on ‘nearly every front’

Obama calls for resolve in face of terrorist threats

Russia bombs ISIS in heaviest strikes since beginning of Syria war

ISIS claims deadly attack on Iraq Shiite mosque

Iran Revolutionary Guard simulate capture of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Turkey-backed Syria rebels seize two border villages from ISIS

Israel shuts down second Palestinian radio station