Action movie star Jackie Chan will meet Burmese officials in Rangoon and Mandalay this week to support children who are recovering from human trafficking experiences, says UNICEF.
Chan will visit a vocational training centre for trafficked children who need special care and support. He will also travel to UNICEF-supported projects assisting children at risk of being trafficked, including those without parental care and children who are living and working on the street.
A UNICEF ambassador, Chan will meet officials at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and members of Burma’s Police Anti-Trafficking Task Force in Mandalay.
Chan said: “Trafficking and exploiting children are horrific crimes. They leave lifelong scars and rob children of their childhoods. Children are not for sale. For the sake the world’s children, we must work hard to stamp out these damaging and criminal practices.”
Trafficking exposes children to physical violence, sexual abuse, and grave emotional distress. In East and Southeast Asia the trafficking industry is fueled by demand for cheap or exploitable labour, commercials sex with children, adoption outside legal channels, and forcing women or girls into exploitative marriages, said a UNICEF statement.
Trafficking is also closely linked to migration. Tens of millions of people migrate for work within their own countries and across borders in the region. When they are far away from their homes and support systems, families – and especially children – face an increased risk of being trafficked.
Chan plans to deliver messages about self-protection to young people in Myanmar during his visit.
“It is very important that young people know how to protect themselves,” said Chan. “Simple things, like knowing not to trust anyone who promises you a dream job in another country; never going to an unknown place alone; knowing your parents’ and your own full name and age; and being able to explain where you live, help children guard against traffickers.”
Chan has been a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador since 2004, using his fame as a vehicle to promote humanitarian progress for the most disadvantaged children.
In late June, the U.S. removed Burma from the bottom tier of countries for its efforts to stop human trafficking during the past year, according to a State Department report.
One of the world's worst offenders of human trafficking laws in the past, Burma was urged to continue with its “unprecedented steps” over the past year.
Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for human trafficking issues, said Burma was upgraded after the Parliament repealed an antiquated law that had been used to justify forced labor and replaced it with a law expressly forbidding the practice.
The government also made progress identifying and helping trafficking victims, and a national trafficking hotline introduced in September has led to the rescue of 57 victims. Much of its recent efforts have been undertaken with the cooperation of the International Labour Organization.
However, the report said many Burmese men, women and children who travel abroad for work are subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking, as trafficking by both private individuals and government officials “continues to be a significant problem.”
The country is taking steps to alleviate Burma’s chronic underdevelopment and lack of jobs, said the report, but trafficking within Burma by both government officials and private actors continues, including involvement by military personnel and militant ethnic groups.
The Burmese government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the State Department said, but “it is making significant steps to do so.”