Thursday, February 12, 2009

Syria: First Shelter for Trafficking Victims Opens

Clients throw paper money at an Iraqi prostitute in a bar outside Damascus. Some Iraqi women who have been sold into prostitution by their own husbands.

DAMASCUS, SYRIA - A shelter for people trafficking victims has just opened in an undisclosed location in Damascus. It is the first of its kind in Syria, which has only recently recognised human trafficking as a problem but still has no specific laws against it.

Human trafficking is only just starting to gain widespread public attention in the region: Jordan passed a law to penalise people trafficking only last week; a similar Egyptian law is still in draft form, and other countries like Lebanon still have no specific legislation against people traffickers.

The new shelter has 20 beds, a communal area, a kitchen and a bathroom. Further rooms are for medical treatment, psychological care and legal advice. A second shelter is planned for the northern city of Aleppo.

The shelter is “pioneering work”, according to Laila Tomeh, national programme officer at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office in Syria. “In 2005 Syria set up a national committee to draft a law on counter-trafficking and to look into establishing a shelter,” she said...


Nat'l Geo: Escape from North Korea

China: In the border city of Yanji a missionary cautiously looks for North Koreans needing help on their long journey to freedom.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - A frigid November day pressed against the windows of a shabby apartment building in the Chinese city of Yanji, ten miles from the North Korean border. Three stories up, footsteps stopped outside a door. At the sound, two young women hurried to a back room and shrank against a wall. Then came a knock. The women, defectors from North Korea, bowed their heads, expecting the worst. If the Chinese police found them without identity cards, they would be deported in handcuffs and chains. Back in North Korea, they would be sentenced to years of hard labor in a prison camp.