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Aceh warned of human trafficking

February 3, 2005

Jakarta - A national movement sponsored by the State Ministry of Women's Empowerment reiterated a call on Tuesday for authorities, relief agencies and community leaders to step up security efforts to prevent women and child trafficking in tsunami-ravaged Aceh.

Dewi Hughes, spokeswoman for the movement called the Campaign to Eliminate the Trafficking of Indonesian Women and Children, revealed that during her two-day visit to the province she learned that there had been several cases in which Acehnese children had gone unexplainably missing from refugee camps and hospitals.

"Although there is no hard evidence, the potential is really there because security at the camps is so lax," she said in a press statement.

Hughes, also a television presenter, said she found out that even before the tsunami devastated Aceh on Dec. 26, young women and girls had reportedly been trafficked from villages to Banda Aceh or to Malaysia and Thailand, where they were forced into prostitution or slave-like labor.

"Human trafficking is now an even greater danger to innocent Acehnese women and children than ever before. We need to ensure greater security against traffickers," she said.

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