Syria Opens First Shelter for Trafficking Victims
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:44 AM

On 2 February 2009, IRIN reported that the first Syrian shelter for trafficking victims opened in the city of Damascus. The shelter came about following the 2005 creation of a national committee to draft counter-trafficking legislation and consider the establishment of a shelter. This serves as one indication that Syria, a country which still has no law against human trafficking, is beginning to acknowledge the severity of the problem in the region.

Syria, like many countries in the Middle East, has been slow to recognize the relevance of counter-trafficking. The 2008 U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report indicates that Syria's efforts to combat human trafficking have been insufficient. The Syrian government has disputed the objectivity of the Report's findings.

In recent years, the large number of Iraqi women and children who have entered Syria has contributed to Syria's growing willingness to confront the issue of trafficking. Although concrete data is lacking, there is evidence to suggest that many Iraqi women now living in Syria were induced to enter the country under false pretences and have become victims of sexual exploitation.

The Damascus shelter, which provides psychological support and medical and legal services to victims, is run by a Syrian NGO (Association for Women's Role Development). There are plans to establish a second shelter in Aleppo, a city in the northern part of Syria.

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Compiled from: IRIN (the humanitarian news and analysis service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), SYRIA: First Shelter for Trafficked People Opens in Damascus (2 February 2009).