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PAKISTAN: Flood unleashes wave of human trafficking

18 Aug

An article from Epoch Times forwarded by the Asian Human Rights
Commission

Article by Nicholas Trainor

Flooding in Pakistan has already created a humanitarian crisis of
extreme proportions, but looming over the region is the threat of an
associated disaster – human trafficking.

As the scale of the crisis worsens with an estimated 15 million
people already affected and two million homes destroyed, the threat of
trafficking is growing.

According to human rights expert, Dr Tahmina Rashid, human
trafficking was already a very real threat before the flooding and
now, as the monsoonal rains threaten further south, more people stand
to be affected by trafficking. She noted Pakistan’s southern
province of Sindh, saying it was particularly bad.

There are predators in this world who can take advantage of these
terrible disasters and the chaos that ensues.

“Sindh is a hub for human trafficking at the best of times,” Dr
Rashid told The Epoch Times, adding, “Anytime there is a natural
disaster and human mobility, it will happen,”

The lack of government infrastructure and resources in Pakistan will
only make it harder for the appropriate government departments to
assure the welfare of the affected population, warns Dr Rashid.

The people at most risk are the women and children of Pakistan who
lack empowerment to make their own decisions, and who are most
susceptible to kidnapping and exploitation, she said.

According to a report by the human rights group End Child
Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual
Purposes, around 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide for
sexual exploitation as well as to be used as cheap labour.

“Natural disasters such as earthquakes, flood or famine crises may
disrupt entire families and communities, leaving children without
necessary protection,” says the report.

Isolation plus the slow response from aid agencies and the
government’s admission that it lacks the resources to deal with the
crisis, do not bode well for the immediate future of the displaced
people.

To halt the threat of human trafficking aid agencies such as World
Vision are trying to establish infrastructure, such as “child and
women friendly centres” to allow families to re-establish, and get
over the shock of the disaster.

“There are predators in this world who can take advantage of these
terrible disasters and the chaos that ensues,” said World Vision’s
Connie Lenneberg on ABC Radio. “All agencies will work together to
identify what children are unaccompanied and assure they are looked
after while they are without supervision from their direct family
members.”

In the aftermath of past natural disasters, such as the Haitian
earthquake, human trafficking has flourished, despite the best efforts
from aid agencies and governments. According to trafficking experts
such as Dr Rashid, the situation in Pakistan will mirror these past
calamities.

Abolitionist and human rights expert, Amanda Kloer, believes human
trafficking usually takes place in the months after a natural disaster
has occurred. If this pattern continues the next period of the relief
effort is crucial to stop one disaster producing another.

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Posted by on August 18, 2010 in Tragedy/Crisis/Disaster

 

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