February 26, 2005
by Kevin Caruso
An information campaign in Sri Lanka has been started by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help women and children avoid exploitation by human traffickers.
Jean-Philippe Chauzy, a spokesman for the IOM, said that Sri Lanka has long been a
"source country" for women and children trafficked to Lebanon and several Gulf States for forced labor and prostitution. He also said that women and children are trafficked to other parts of Sri Lanka for the same purposes.
"We know that, prior to the tsunami, this phenomenon existed in Sri Lanka," he said. "Now, what we are doing at the moment is to make sure that those who have been affected by the tsunami, who have lost their livelihoods, we want to make sure that they are wary of people who might promise good jobs abroad, or outside the country, the area of origin. We also want to alert parents to watch for strangers who might offer to take their children, in order to give them a better life elsewhere."
The IOM campaign will consist of distributing brightly colored posters and leaflets throughout the country and broadcasting public service announcements on television and radio.
The IOM has also established a telephone hotline.
"We have also put in place a telephone hotline, which is operational seven days a week, where people who think they might run the risk of being trafficked can actually call for quick reference, to double-check whether the job offer that might be made to them abroad is, indeed, a proper job offer, or whether it is a bogus job offer," he said.