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Bangkok Post
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Most victims 'from Thailand's neighbours': Up to 1.2m children exploited annually
Anjira Assavanonda
February 22, 2003
Most victims of human trafficking in Thailand were children and women from neighbouring countries, an NGO monitoring the issue has said.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund, up to 1.2 million children worldwide become victims each year.

The extent of the problem was mapped out by Unicef deputy executive director Kul Gautum at the International Symposium on Trafficking of Children, organised by Unicef and the Japanese government. The symposium, which ended yesterday, brought together key players in anti-trafficking efforts in Southeast Asia, mainly NGO representatives, to discuss the situation and possible solutions.

Thailand was very involved, being the country of origin, transit and destination, the forum said.

Ben Svasti from Trafcord, a Thai NGO trying to combat trafficking in the northern provinces, said most trafficking victims in Thailand were foreign nationals, including Laotians, Burmese, Chinese and Cambodians. The main trafficking routes were through Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, Mae Sot district in Tak, and Mae Hong Son province, he said.

Bodil Tumir, an adviser to Norwegian Church Aid, an NGO in Laos, said the sex industry in Thailand was largely run by small and informal cross-border networks, into which a lot of Lao women and girls were lured.

It is estimated that trafficking in children and women for commercial sexual purposes in Asia and the Pacific alone victimised more than 30 million people in the past 30 years.

And in the age of computer-driven culture, trafficking had become more high-tech, with child pornography, sex tourism information, and mail-order brides offered openly on the internet, he said.

Fighting this problem required cooperation at national, regional and international levels.