Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Egypt "rife" with human trafficking according to UN

Cairo - A UN expert called on Wednesday for Egypt to take more action to combat human trafficking, laying out a list of social ills running from child labour to sexual exploitation.

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the UN special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, was speaking as she wrapped up a 10-day visit to the country and talks with government officials and representatives of civil society.

According to a statement, she "identified common forms of trafficking in persons in Egypt to include trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation of under-aged girls through 'seasonal/temporary' marriage, child labour, domestic servitude, other forms of sexual exploitation and prostitution".

"There is a growing trend of sexual and economic exploitation of young Egyptian girls by their families and brokers... These types of marriage sometimes provide a smokescreen for providing sexual services to foreign men."

Ngozi Ezeilo said there were "also indications that trafficking for forced marriages, forced labour, transplantation of human organs and body tissues may be much more than current estimates".

She also said that while Egypt has been described as a transit country, "it might also be a source and a destination".

Street children

"The incidence of internal trafficking is much higher than transnational trafficking and the prevalence of street children increases their vulnerability to child trafficking," she said.

Ngozi Ezeilo said the problem is not well-understood, and called on Egypt to "provide comprehensive training programmes to enhance knowledge and awareness of human trafficking" and to tackle "root causes of trafficking such as poverty, unemployment, education, gender discrimination".

A parliamentary source said Egypt should soon pass a law criminalising human trafficking.

In February, a law was adopted regulating organ transplants and was aimed primarily at combating trafficking.

Every year, hundreds of poor Egyptians sell their kidneys, the World Health Organisation has said, making the country a focal point for trafficking.


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