The U.S. State Department has released its latest Trafficking in Persons Report. Nine countries, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia have been added to the list of those failing to make significant efforts to combat trafficking for the purpose of forced labor.
Ambassador John Miller is director of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons:
"The forced labor may involve foreign workers who end up in conditions of involuntary servitude or child camel jockeys who live in slave-like conditions and are forced to race in extremely dangerous environments."
In Qatar, the government has not made significant efforts to rescue the estimated seventy-five to two-hundred-fifty child camel jockeys. Nor have there been any prosecutions of those involved in the trafficking of boys used as camel jockeys. Child jockeys have been thrown from the camels and suffered serious injuries and sometimes death. Most no longer remember where they come from.
Trafficked children in the United Arab Emirates are also used as camel jockeys. Some are reportedly starved to make them weigh less, sometimes abused physically and sexually, and often denied education and health care. The United Arab Emirates government estimates that there are up to two-thousand seven-hundred such children in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, women from Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and South, Southeast, and East Asia are trafficked to the United Arab Emirates for sexual exploitation.
Kuwait is likewise a destination for men, women, and children trafficked primarily from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka for the purpose of labor exploitation. Some underage boys are trafficked to Kuwait from neighboring Gulf states to work as camel jockeys. Children from Yemen, Afghanistan, and Africa are trafficked to Saudi Arabia for forced begging. The proceeds of the begging often go to their traffickers. Saudi Arabia is also a destination for men and women from South and East Asia and East Africa trafficked for labor exploitation.
Through the Trafficking in Persons Report, the U.S. has encouraged the governments of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia to adopt legislation to punish those who traffic in human beings, especially children. As President George W. Bush said, "The trade in human beings for any purpose must not be allowed to thrive. We must all work to end this terrible tragedy."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.