Governments urged to raise awareness on people trafficking

Published: 23 September 2003 0:00 CET

The International Federation today urged governments to take measures to increase public awareness of the exploitation faced by victims of people trafficking.

Speaking in Seoul at a high-level meeting on international trafficking, Federation representative, Juja Kim of the Republic of Korea National Red Cross, said it was important to clarify confusion between “people smuggling” and “people trafficking”.

She said that while both acts involve illegal entry, trafficking connotes the use of deception or force while smuggling ordinarily involves a financial transaction. This distinction is “central to the large issue of addressing the involvement of traffickers in crimes against women and children, and hence also to the central Red Cross and Red Crescent concern for the extreme vulnerability of trafficked persons.”

Kim told the inter-governmental Expert Group Meeting on Prevention of International Trafficking and Promotion of Public Awareness Campaigns that the issue is “very relevant to public awareness campaigns, for our experience is that the media has too often confused the issues of smuggling and trafficking and contributed to the inability of many in the public to recognise and understand the vulnerability of the people concerned.”

The importance of public awareness campaigns was evident in view of the xenophobic outbursts and discriminatory treatment which legal migrants often suffer from their new host populations.

“In short, the International Federation sees the public awareness task as potentially the most important task to which governments must commit if they are to make a real and lasting impact on the issues arising from illegal or unauthorised migration,” Kim said.

“We see it as a task demanding effective partnerships between governments and the various elements of civil society, including of course National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. We also see it involving government agencies well beyond those involved in movement control, and certainly including agencies involved in the provision of basic human services like health, education, housing, welfare, the care of children, and more.”

Kim also recalled that the Red Cross and Red Crescent committed to the Manila Plan of Action at their last regional conference in November 2002 which includes pledges to address the issues raised by population movements within the region and to actively fight discrimination, racism and xenophobia.

Related links:

Manila Action Plan
Press release: Red Cross Red Crescent calls for greater ratification of migrant and refugee conventions