More than 2,000 victims of human traffickers, most of them women and children, were rescued by Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security from 2000-2005. This information was announced at a conference in Bangkok. Most of the rescued 2,128 were stateless women and children from Burma, Laos, China, Vietnam and hill tribe communities, according to figures presented by the ministry's Office for the Promotion of the Well-Being and Protection of the Disadvantaged. The conference was organized to address the problem of human trafficking in the Mekong sub-region. Supang Chanthawanit, Director of Chulalongkorn University's Asian Institute, told The Irrawaddy that children who had been orphaned or whose parents were drug addicts were particularly at risk. The conference had heard that many victims of human traffickers had come to Thailand to escape the violence in Burma. Now, however, the center of prostitution on Thailand's northern border with Burma had switched from Mae Sai to the neighboring Burmese town of Tachilek, where business was being operated from vans to escape police attention. Rotsukon Thariya, secretary of the Anti-Trafficking Co-ordination Unit, Northern Thailand, told The Irrawaddy that traffickers were also avoiding the authorities by using mobile phones to contact customers. Friends and relatives of the victims were also being recruited into the trafficking business, attracted by "agents' fees." Supang said victims of human traffickers included Burmese and Cambodian workers recruited to man fishing vessels based in the Thai port of Ranong, on the Burmese border. Rotsukon said legal penalties weren't strict enough to deter the traffickers. The big operators were also difficult to catch, and co-operation among concerned agencies was also insufficient.
"Bangkok Conference Targets Human Traffickers." The Irrawaddy News Magazine. February 28, 2006. (Source: UNIAP).
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