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July 18, 2006

Israel, Arab nations convene to discuss ways to combat modern slavery

A few days old (July 11), but this is very promising.

Israel, Arabs join to fight white slavery
Experts from the Middle East and North Africa met last week at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna to prepare an action plan to stamp out the growing problems of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

The three-day symposium - the first of its kind - brought together representatives from Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, UAE, Yemen and Malta.

"This is the first meeting ever held to discuss a regional action plan for the Middle East/North Africa region," Muhammad Adul-Aziz of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime said. "We consider this meeting to be an important step forward. The proposed plan of action will provide member states with a framework for their future efforts to fight smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings."

A UN report in April said Israel was a top destination country for trafficking in human beings, and the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, published in June, placed Israel in the Tier 2 (Watch List) category of countries whose governments do not fully comply with the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act but are making significant efforts to do so.

"In the Middle East/North Africa region, exchange of information is complicated by heightened security concerns and tense diplomatic relations," said Israel's representative at the meeting, Yedida Wolfe. She is co-director of the Task Force on Human Trafficking - a project of the nonprofit organization ATZUM (Justice Works) and law firm Kabir-Nevo-Keidar.

"If there is a consensus on one thing, that is the need for bilateral cooperation to combat trafficking. Last week's meeting was a breakthrough in establishing personal cross-border contacts to help fight modern slavery," Wolfe said.
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