[Stop-traffic] News/EU: Traffic in humans is financial godsend to mafias

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/EU: Traffic in humans is financial godsend to mafias
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Aug 16 2000 - 10:17:41 EDT

Traffic in humans is financial godsend to mafias
By Martine Veron
Agence France Presse, July 21, 2000

PARIS (AFP)- Trafficking in human beings, clandestine immigrants seeking a
better life or political asylum, has in recent years become a financial
godsend to international mafias.

Human tragedies such as the discovery of the bodies of 58 Chinese in a
truck in the port of Dover, southern England, last month show the scale of
this traffic, under discussion at a conference attended by ministers and
officials from 30 countries in Paris Thursday and Friday.

The international human smuggling is based on a growing demand by people in
developing countries.

The only known figures are those for regularization requests (150,000 in
France and Spain, 200,000 in Italy, 400,000 in Greece recently), but the
European parliament estimates that 400,000 to 500,000 illegal immigrants
enter the European Union every year.

The journey of an illegal is profitable: for a Chinese national to go to
the United States, for example, can cost up to 30,000 dollars, according to
the International Labour Organization (ILO) which last March hit out at a
traffic worth 5-7 billion dollars a year.

The cost of crossing a border from eastern Europe or the Mediterranean is
put at 500 dollars.

According to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
in 1998 it cost 3,000 dollars to go from the Philippines to Kuwait, or
4,000 to 6,000 dollars from Bangladesh to Germany.

The ICFTU is worried about the increasing number of women among migrants:
nearly 500,000 women have left Sri Lanka for the Middle East, while in the
Philippines 12 times more women than men emigrate to find work.

For enterprises, often in league with the traffickers, clandestine labour
has many advantages: no social security, under-paid and willing to do
demanding work. Seasonal and restaurant work especially suits illegals.

But clandestine migration is not only for economic reasons. Many political
refugees have no other option but to resort to traffickers, according to
the United Nations refugees office (UNHCR), due to the toughening of asylum
rules and entry conditions in many countries.

Amnesty International on Thursday expressed concern over new repressive
measures adopted by France against those transporting illegals: "These
sanctions may contribute to preventing people under threat from having
access to asylum in another country, and they might strengthen the criminal

Political analyst Catherine Wihtol de Wenden says strong controls make
matters worse.

When smuggling operations are discovered, others that are more
sophisticated spring up. The smugglers take their clients by incredibly
roundabout routes, often making them stay in one place for days or weeks.
As controls are stepped up the itineraries get more complicated, means of
transport diversify and the danger for the exiles increases.

The traffic in illegals generates more lucrative deals, such as
falsification of working papers and identity documents.

The ILO says South Korean and Japanese passports are sent from different
parts of the world to Bangkok where they are altered and sold for up to
2,000 dollars.

A thriving new recruitment industry offers packages including work,
passport, visas and lodgings, alongside the smuggling networks.

Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

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in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
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