Friday

21st Jul 2017

EU ringed by human trafficking offenders

  • Trafficking route runs from Nigeria, via Libya, to Italy or Germany (Photo: frehdyboy)

The EU is encircled by a ring of the world’s worst offenders on human trafficking, a US state department report has said.

In the south, it neighbours the “special case” of Libya, and is ringed by Mauritania, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, and Iran - all of them countries that do not meet US “minimum standards” on prevention of trafficking and “are not making significant efforts to do so”, the report, out on Tuesday (27 June), said.

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  • Lack of rule-of-law made Libya a "special case" (Photo: Internews Network)

In the east, Russia and Belarus fell into the same category.

The state department's yearly survey said Libya’s government “lacked the capacity to address basic security challenges, including human trafficking” and that there was “lack of rule-of-law”.

“Migrants in Libya are extremely vulnerable to trafficking, including those seeking employment in Libya or transiting Libya en route to Europe”, it said.

It said that jihadist group IS had taken captive “at least 540 migrants and refugees” to use as slaves since mid-2015.

It also said that “elements of the Libyan Coast Guard have reportedly worked with armed groups and other criminals, including traffickers, to exploit migrants for profit”.

The report noted that more than half of Syria’s pre-war population had been displaced and that women and children were being forced into sexual and other forms of slavery in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

On the EU’s eastern side, the US said women from Belarus and Ukraine were being trafficked for sex in Russia, Poland, and Turkey.

It said that “fuelled by Russian aggression, the conflict in eastern Ukraine has displaced nearly 2 million people, and this population is especially vulnerable to exploitation”.

It said that in Russia “organised crime syndicates … sometimes play a role in exploiting labour migrants, and corruption among some government officials and within some state agencies creates an environment enabling some trafficking crimes.”

Most EU countries scored the highest ranking in the US survey, but Hungary and Bulgaria were put on a “watchlist” over issues including increase in victims and poor law enforcement.

Traffickers continued to claim victims in the heart of the EU, whether among people coming via Libya to Italy or moving north to Germany.

“The estimated number of trafficking victims in Italy increased significantly due to the continued dramatic flow of migrants and asylum-seekers arriving by boat from sub-Saharan Africa,” the US said.

It noted that the number of estimated Nigerian women who were trafficked in Italy almost tripled last year.

It said Nigerian, Bulgarian, and Romanian women are being trafficked for sex in Germany, while Afghan, Bulgarian, Pakistani, Polish, Romanian, and Vietnamese people were being used as forced labour.

“The large influx of migrants during the 2015 and 2016 refugee crises continues to place a significant strain on [German] government resources at all levels and among agencies responsible for combating trafficking”, the US said.

Italy's 'nuclear option' on migrants unravels

Media has reported that Italy may issue visas to migrants to allow them to travel further north. But the plan is unlikely to work due to EU rules underpinning such decisions.

Austria readies for migrant border surge

Foreign ministers in Brussels agreed to toughen up measures against Libyan migrant smugglers amid Austrian claims it is ready to "protect" its borders from any sudden mass migrant movements from Italy.

EU backs Italy on NGO rescues

The European Commission has said that the EU and Italy merely want to “better organise” migrant rescues in the Central Mediterranean.

EU to scale back Greek asylum aid

The Greek government is set to take over running services provided by EU-funded NGOs for stranded migrants and asylum seekers in August. The lack of clarity and state plans for the transition is raising alarm.

Italy to impose tough rules on NGOs

Italian authorities will release a code of conduct for NGOs, which prevents them, among other things, from entering Libyan territorial waters. A draft copy of the code says NGOs will be banned from Italian ports on failure to comply.

Austria readies for migrant border surge

Foreign ministers in Brussels agreed to toughen up measures against Libyan migrant smugglers amid Austrian claims it is ready to "protect" its borders from any sudden mass migrant movements from Italy.

EU backs Italy on NGO rescues

The European Commission has said that the EU and Italy merely want to “better organise” migrant rescues in the Central Mediterranean.

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