Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shelter for Trafficking Victims Opens in Syria

It was an event that when largely unnoticed, and was - of course - not covered at all by our media here. But it was significant none-the-less.

During the first week of February, a shelter for victims of human trafficking opened in Syria's capital city of Damascus. The shelter will provide not only protection, but a chance for women and children who have been brutally victimized to begin rebuilding their lives. A story published on the Integrated Regional Information Network's (IRIN) website says the shelter has 20 beds, a communal area, kitchen and bathroom. Additional rooms are available for psychological and medical care, and also for legal advice.

Though Syria now officially recognizes that human trafficking is an issue, it does not yet have any laws against the trafficking of persons either to, from, or through its borders. The U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Person's Report listed Syria as both a destination and transit country - meaning that trafficking victims either pass through Syria on their way to a neighboring country, or they are sold within its borders.

The lack of protection has caused some countries - like the Philippines - to ban their citizens from working, or even looking for work, in Syria.

Despite Syria's dismal record in the prevention of human trafficking and protection of its victims, the opening of this shelter is cause for cautious optimism. Plans are already underway to open a 2nd shelter in the northern part of the country. And the government is currently drafting its first-ever counter-trafficking legislation.

Source: IRIN News

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