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.

 

Syrian rebels agree to leave new area outside Damascus

Family accuses Israel of killing Palestinian in Malaysia

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Cinema makes return to Saudi Arabia

UN Security Council meets over Syria in Sweden

Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign

Condemnation after Gaza teenager killed by Israeli soldiers

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy

Western strikes on Syria bring no change whatsoever

Trump criticises OPEC for high oil prices

Syria says rebels south of capital surrender

Market has capacity to absorb higher oil prices: Saudi minister

Putin 'ready' for Trump summit

Saudi Arabia to host first public film screening

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'

Turkey's snap polls: bold gambit or checkmate for Erdogan?

Iran arrests senior official over public concert

Bahrain sentences 24 to jail, strips citizenship

UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd's death sentence

Moderate quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Syria regime forces caught in surprise IS attack

Turkey sentences 18 to life for killing ‘hero’ coup soldier

Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

Libya to clamp down on fuel smuggling

Yemen to arrest colonel for overlooking African migrant rape

Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

Qatar joins Gulf military exercise in apparent compromise

Saudi-Russia oil alliance likely to undercut OPEC

UN in security talks with Syria on chemical probe

Riyadh says two al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen