Australia to tackle human trafficking in Burma

Sept 17, 2009 (DVB), Burma has been named as one of six countries that will receive funding from the Australian government to tackle human trafficking, Canberra announced on Tuesday.

More than $AUS10 million will be provided to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to fund three projects in the country over the next four years.

Other countries targeted in the programme are Laos, China, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. The announcement was made on Tuesday by Australia's minister for immigration and citizen, Chris Evans.

According to a statement on the Australian government website, the first of the three projects will focus on computer-based training for border staff "to detect and stop people smuggling activities".

The second will "finance the creation of a coordination and analysis unit to gather, examine and distribute statistics on people smuggling across the region", while the third is aimed at strengthening cross-border cooperation.

According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) figures, at least 12.3 million people worldwide are in forced labour, bonded labour or commercial sexual exploitation.

A US State Department report released in June this year said that human trafficking within Burma remains "significant", whist trafficking of young women into forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation is a "major problem".

Many Burmese women and children are being trafficked to Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, South Korea, China and Malaysia, the latter two often for forced marriage.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the phenomenon as "modern slavery".

"[It] weakens legitimate economies, fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, shatters families, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress."

Reporting by Francis Wade

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