News / Asia

UN: Human Trafficking Increasing in Pakistan

Families sit at the back of a van with their belongings, while fleeing a military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban, as they enter Bannu, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Jan. 22, 2014.
Families sit at the back of a van with their belongings, while fleeing a military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban, as they enter Bannu, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Jan. 22, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ayaz Gul
— A new U.N. study says human trafficking from and through Pakistan has increased during the past year.  It adds that the majority of Pakistani and Afghan nationals trying to illegally migrate by sea to countries like Australia are religious or ethnic minorities, such as Hazara Shi'ites escaping persecution at home. 

U.N. officials reveal that trafficking networks in the country are also helping Pakistanis engage in fighting in countries like Syria and Egypt.  

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says in its research published Thursday that human smuggling networks in Pakistan are “more organized and sophisticated,” encouraging not only locals but people from middle eastern nations to use the country as a transit destination  for illegal migration.

The study says trafficking of male Pakistanis to Europe for forced labor is an emerging concern and an increasing number of these illegal migrants are detected using legitimate, but fraudulently obtained travel documents.

UNODC country chief, Cesar Guedes, says most of the migrants are from either economically depressed or violence-hit parts of Pakistan where they do not see any hope.

"We see that trend in Baluchistan, especially some religious and ethnic minorities that do not feel that they can stay further into the country.  So, they either migrate within the country or those who are more adventurous try to go beyond the borders,” he said.

Pakistan’s restive southwestern Baluchistan province has witnessed an increase in sectarian violence against the minority Hazara community, who are Shi'ite Muslims.  

The latest attack against the population took place on Tuesday when a suicide bomber struck a bus of Shiite pilgrims returning from neighboring Iran in which at least 28 people were killed.  

The violence has forced the Hazaras to leave Pakistan and most of them attempt to illegally migrate to Australia by undertaking an extremely dangerous sea journey.

The U.N. study says that the high level of acceptance of refugee claims by Australia demonstrates that Pakistani and Afghan irregular maritime arrivals to the country have legitimate and compelling flight reasons. 

Guedes says the migrants travel to South East Asian countries like Thailand and Malaysia using valid passports, before boarding small and inadequate boats to embark on the illegal sea journey to Australia.  

“Many of those illegal ships, vessels just succumb to the very rough Indian Ocean waters between Indonesia and the Australian territories.  So it is a very dramatic and sad story that has a human face," he said.  "Those terrains and those waters are probably one of the biggest sea cemeteries of the world regarding this type of trafficked or smuggled people.”

He says the UNODC researchers also have come across information the human smuggling networks in Pakistan are engaged in exporting young Pakistani nationals to participate in conflicts abroad.

“There is definitely that element of people trying to recruit these young energetic people for the wrong reasons and eventually these young lads paying with their lives in other parts of the world in conflicts that do not belong to them,” he said.

He urged Pakistan to strengthen its laws and interdiction efforts to discourage human trafficking from the country.  

The head of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, Saud Mirza, says a crackdown has recently been launched to uproot these networks and a large number of people have also been detained.  But he stopped short of admitting officers in his department have links to the human smuggling groups.

“We in FIA have also aggressively targeted our own venal immigration officers.  Not only we have departmentally proceeded against them, but in many cases we have registered criminal cases against them,” he said.

The FIA chief also says border controls are being tightened, particularly with Iran, which is a major route for human smugglers.

The UNODC study estimates the illegal economy associated with this form of crime in Pakistan is more than $109 million a year.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid