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Government of Lao PDR, UNICEF launch media awareness campaign to protect young people from dangers of trafficking

Vientianem, 1 June 2005 -  The Government of Lao PDR and UNICEF today launched a multi-media campaign designed to raise awareness of the risks posed by trafficking and protect those most at risk from its dangers.  Lao youth music celebrities will perform a concert in Vientiane, the nation’s capital, to mark Children’s Day and promote the campaign’s themes.

Targeting mainly young Lao people, the Be Smart Be Safe campaign includes a music CD and video, posters, billboards, pamphlets and TV and radio dramas.  The media materials, dubbed “The Box of Hope”, were developed by young people for young people, following a series of youth consultations which revealed that trafficking is one of the five top youth concerns in Lao PDR.  The other youth priorities cited were access to education, HIV/AIDS, drugs and family problems.

Be Smart Be Safe is one of several anti-trafficking initiatives developed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and UNICEF following the release of the first national trafficking study in 2004 which revealed that trafficking is an important problem for Lao PDR which requires urgent action.

“The devastating stories in last year’s study illustrated an alarming pattern, of young people making fateful decisions to migrate far from home with little preparation or understanding of the risks they faced,” said Olivia Yambi, UNICEF Representative in Lao PDR, at the campaign launch.  “The Be Smart Be Safe campaign aims to help fill this gap. It is a “tool kit” for critical decision making, to support young people in dealing with crucial questions:   "‘Where will I be working?  When do I get paid? Am I allowed to come home when I want to? Who do I contact if things turn out badly?’"

The Be Smart Be Safe materials vividly illustrate a concept of trafficking that young Lao people can relate to. ‘The Long Road Home’, a pop song complete with video, employs emotional lyrics and imagery to tell the story of a rural girl whose dreams are shattered when she is sold to a sweatshop in Thailand. Physically and sexually abused, she yearns for the family life she left behind.

Be Smart Be Safe is also aimed at local government officials in Lao PDR, a least developed country, since they can play a crucial role in detecting potential trafficking cases and repatriation of trafficking victims.  Finally, the campaign aims to engage communities to define what they can do to prevent their children from becoming victims.

Since the launch of the 2004 trafficking study,  the National Assembly of Lao PDR has passed a new law on the Development and Protection of Women, which lays a solid legal foundation for the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases.  In addition, the country is one of six Mekong nations who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to address human trafficking – the first MOU of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region. 

The Be Smart Be Safe campaign in Lao PDR was developed with support from the German National Committee for UNICEF.


For more information, please contact:

Ruth Landy, UNICEF Laos, Mobile 020 551 9681




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