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.

 

IS jihadists move closer than ever to central Damascus

A year on, recapture of Yazidi hub remains a distant prospect

EU leaders call for action to defend migrants’ 'dignity'

Palmyra temple appears ‘largely intact’ after ISIS blast

Over 10,000 Icelanders ready to welcome Syrians

Libya loyalist forces battle IS jihadists in Benghazi

South Sudan peace deal in jeopardy

Pressure builds on Europe as refugee crisis exposes splits

Israel confirms jail for Druze ex-MP over visit to Syria

Egypt much delayed elections to start on October 17

Turkey to offer cash rewards for tips on ‘terrorists’

Yemen children's hospital on the verge of shutting down

In gruesome video, ISIS shows burning alive of Iraq Shiite fighters

Four years after famine, situation in Somalia remains alarming

IS blows up parts of famed Palmyra temple

Deadly fire at housing complex of Aramco in Saudi Arabia

In historic first, Saudi Arabia allows women to run in local elections

Israel repels protesters with tear gas at separation barrier in West Bank

ISIS brutality in Syria: Over 90 people executed in one month

Bashir to visit China despite international arrest warrant

Egypt summons British envoy in row over Al-Jazeera trial

Yemen war seeks to stop ‘Iran expansion’ in Arab region

Lebanon protesters to government: Meet our demands of face escalation

Calls for action on refugee crisis mount after Austrian tragedy

Kuwait lawmaker describes Iran as 'true enemy' of Gulf Arabs

Two French journalists charged with bid to blackmail Morocco King

Algeria detains former intelligence chief

Kurdish forces free seven Iraq villages from clasps of ISIS

Toll in Libya shipwreck tragedy rises to 111

Egypt court hands Al-Jazeera reporters three years in prison

UN to host new round of Libya peace talks next week

US names ‘First Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs’

Mounting death toll of security forces triggers questions in Turkey

Deadly terrorist blast rocks Karanah suburb in Bahrain

Brief truce between Syria regime and rebels collapses

Al-Qaeda lashes 10 in Yemen for blasphemy, alcohol

Turkey PM to form cabinet ahead of November polls

Iraq PM orders forces to prepare to open Green Zone

71 'Syrians' dead in Austria truck tragedy

UN conference on plight of minorities persecuted by IS

Spain judge accuses suspect of running IS Morocco network

Yemen army recruits 4,800 southern fighters

Israel to use agriculture to win friends in Africa

Syrian refugees desert Middle East for Europe

At least 76 die as boat sinks off Libya