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The United States has promised not to give up its fight against human trafficking.

The State Department’s 2015 report on human trafficking was released this week. It examines the illegal movement of people for forced labor or sex.

The report says human trafficking is a $150 billion a year industry that enslaves some of the world’s more than 230 million migrant workers.

At a State Department event Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said fighting human trafficking is a “battle against money. It’s a battle against evil.”

He added, “It’s a fight we absolutely have to win. It is a modern day, human rights challenge of enormous proportions.”

But there are questions about whether the wording of the report was not strong enough on some countries.

The report lists 23 countries as Tier 3. Those are countries that are failing to meet minimum standards to fight human trafficking. The list includes Iran, Syria, Russia and North Korea.

Siddharth Kara is with the Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts. He questioned some of the report’s findings.

“It’s a little curious that after 12 years on Tier 3, Cuba is upgraded shortly after the opening of diplomatic relations and Malaysia, which was on Tier 3 last year, upgraded one notch higher, around the same time that the president’s pursuing a fairly ambitious Trans-Pacific Trade program.”

Mr. Kara and other observers wonder why the United States and its allies have not done more to help with Yazidi women and children.

Ameena Saeed Hasan is a Yazidi activist. She says many families are suffering because of the group known as Islamic State, or Daesh.

“Every time we raise this issue with the international community, they say the first objective is to defeat Daesh and this will take a very long time.”

Activists warn the longer victims of human trafficking suffer, the worse the physical and emotional effects will be, making recovering more difficult.

Secretary of State John Kerry says the report should read as a call to action. But he and others say while the progress has been made, the fight against human trafficking will surely last “for some time to come.”

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA’s Jeff Seldin reported this story from Washington. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

human trafficking – n. the illegal movement of people for forced labor or sex.

migrant – n. people who move from place to place for economic reasons

enormous – adj. really big or huge

proportion(s) – n. size or amount

minimumadj. least or lowest possible in amount

upgrade – v. to raise to a higher level

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