Conflicts encourage people smuggling
The government has taken a tough stance to eradicate human trafficking but warned that unless peace and stability prevails this scourge is hard to stop.
THE government has warned that conflict escalates human trafficking and innocent civilians will continue to fall victim to unscrupulous traffickers if it goes unchecked.
Vice President U Henry Van Thio on Wednesday said that ending armed conflict in the country could significantly reduce, if not eradicate, trafficking of people.
“Wars are a major hindrance to stability, peace, economic growth, education and development. Migrant workers leave the country because of lack of livelihood opportunities and easily fall prey to human traffickers,” he said at the 5th Anti-human Trafficking Day celebration held in Nay Pyi Taw.
“Therefore, we have to focus on peace process which is directly related to anti-human trafficking measures,” he added, noting that armed conflicts are major causes of the crime.
His comments echoes at a time when the country is facing pressing security issues, especially the clashes in Rakhine State and Tanai in Shan State, where many villagers have been displaced.
Trafficking data concerning Myanmar citizens is also worrying. For instance, about 160 human trafficking cases was filed in the court up to September 2017, compared to only 130 cases for the entire 2016, according to the Anti-human Trafficking police force.
And, from January to September this year, 29 people – 6 men and 23 women – were victims of this crossborder scourge.
Human trafficking takes many shades and marginalised groups, from cities to remote villages, are often vulnerable to this crime.
The Global New Light of Myanmar, the state newspaper, on September 14, revealed that “Myanmar is encountering forced marriages connected to China, exploitation and forced prostitution in Thailand, forced begging in Malaysia and forced labour in the off-shore fishing industry related to Indonesia, and labour exploitation and forced prostitution in Myanmar.”
As Myanmar is one of the major sources of trafficked people, conflicts could create a lot of damages to the citizens and the community.
“Only with collective public participation will we be able to fight human trafficking,” said the vice president.
Several push and pull factors, from lack of good education, poverty, lack of employment opportunities at home and insecurity and better job opportunities elsewhere – drives human trade, which has now said to be a well-orchestrated multi-million industry.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Thet Naung, from the Anti-human Trafficking police force, said lack of employment is the primary reason for the crime to flourish.
“There is an urgent need to improve livelihoods of the people. So, we need peace. Without peace, it will be difficult for economic development as all are (inter) related,” he said.
As long as people are poor, human trafficking will still exist, thus comprehensive preventive measures are required, he added.
“Human trafficking cannot be absolutely eliminated. It exists even in the United States. It’s just the percentage of difference,” Lieutenant Colonel Thet Naung said.
“The percentage (of cases) in developing countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos is high but in rich countries within ASEAN, the percentage of trafficked persons is low,” he added,
“We are trying to reduce it but other related sectors like economy and education need to be improved. Only then anti-human trafficking measures can succeed,” he said.
The government is serious to curb trafficking and anti-human trafficking plans have been implemented under the five-year plan and the third five-year Plan (2017-2021) has been approved for implementation.
“Our main objective is to completely eliminate human trafficking. We are implementing five-year plans. But zero percent human trafficking is not possible in any country in the world,” Lieutenant Colonel Thet Naung said.
Due to the implementations of these measures Myanmar was raised to tier 2 watch list in 2017 in the US human trafficking report.
A man walks past a large billboard that warns about human trafficking at Yankin passport office in Yangon on September 14.
Vice President U Henry Van Thio speaks at the ceremony marking Anti-human Trafficking Day in Nay Pyi Taw, on September 13.