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Children are still being trafficked 200 years after the abolition of the slave trade

NEW YORK, 25 March 2007 - Although 25 March marks the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, slavery still exists today as children are trafficked into bonded labour and the sex trade.

An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year to be used as domestic servants, factory workers, camel jockeys, child soldiers and sex slaves.

Children are the most vulnerable to human rights abuses yet least able to defend themselves. The bicentenary offers a unique opportunity to renew global efforts to eradicate child trafficking.

Human trafficking generates an estimated $9.5 billion a year, attracting organised criminal gangs and leading to corruption on a global scale.

The breakdown of the protective environment leaves children vulnerable to traffickers who exploit the desperation of families. The social factors which lead to this desperation need to be addressed in order to put a stop to this crime. It is also critical to tackle the demand side of human trafficking. Laws must be enforced against those who exploit children.

In 2005, UNICEF and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement to return children involved in camel racing, many of them victims of trafficking, back to their countries. More than 1,000 child camel jockeys – mostly from Bangladesh, Mauritania, Pakistan and Sudan returned home and were reunited with their families.

UNICEF is committed to eradicating modern day slavery by tackling its root causes such as poverty, lack of education, discrimination and violence. These and other efforts including reintegration programs involving family, community and governmental support are all part of UNICEF’s efforts to build a protective environment for children, one which safeguards children from violence, exploitation and abuse before it happens.

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