The American State Department says Myanmar’s human trafficking situation has worsened. It lowered the country’s position on the State Department’s yearly human trafficking report.
The report accuses Myanmar’s military of carrying out operations in Rakhine state that forced large numbers of Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh.
The 2018 Trafficking in Persons report was released during a ceremony at the State Department. The yearly report rates governments based on their efforts to fight human trafficking.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the military and others in Rakhine state had forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya and people from other ethnic groups to leave Rakhine State.
He said traffickers throughout the area “exploited” many of those fleeing. And, he added, “Some in the Burmese military also recruited child soldiers and subjected adults and children from ethnic minority groups to forced labor.”
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine state since August 25. They began leaving after Rohingya militants launched attacks against state security forces. The attacks led to military action against suspected militants and their supporters.
The United Nations has described the operation as a clear example of ethnic cleansing. Myanmar officials have said the campaign is aimed at fighting terrorism.
The report urged Myanmar to stop all recruitment and unlawful use of children in the armed forces. It also called on the government to remove any officials involved in sex trafficking and forced labor and to hold them criminally responsible.
Other countries placed on the report’s worst offenders list were Gabon, Laos, Papua New Guinea and Bolivia. As a result, these nations could face sanctions or reductions in U.S. and international aid.
Among others rated lowest for their anti-trafficking efforts were China, North Korea, Russia, Syria and Venezuela.
Pompeo said the U.S. administration will remain firm in its efforts. “The world should know that we will not stop before we know human trafficking is a thing of the past,” he said.
The report moved several countries up from the bottom to the next highest list. These included Sudan, Thailand and Pakistan. Relations recently improved between Sudan and the U.S., which ended long-standing economic sanctions on the country last October. U.S. officials cited Sudan’s progress in human rights.
Also attending the ceremony was President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who serves as a presidential adviser. She honored 10 individuals from around the world recognized for their personal efforts to fight human trafficking.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters and VOA News. Caty Weaver was the editor.
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
exploit – v. to use someone or something in a way that helps you unfairly
recruit – v. to try to get someone to join a group, organizations or business
sanctions – n. punishment imposed on a country with regards to trade or economy