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Annual Trafficking in Persons Report shows increase in countries using child soldiers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, DC (June 19, 2013) — World Vision applauds the U.S. Department of State for calling out countries that have failed to show improvements in fighting human trafficking, in the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released today. However, the report shows a 30 percent increase in countries recruiting and using child soldiers with some of those countries receiving military aid from the U.S.

"The integrity and honesty of the TIP Report is what makes the U.S. a global leader in combatting modern day slavery,” said Jesse Eaves, senior policy advisor for Child Protection at World Vision. “However, that leadership needs to be extended to all forms of trafficking, most notably the use of children in militaries, particularly those that receive U.S. assistance.”

In order to strengthen the influence of the TIP report, World Vision urges the Obama administration not to issue waivers to those countries cited by the report as using child soldiers.

There are 10 countries that have been cited in the report for using child soldiers in their military operations, compared to 7 in the 2012 report. Those countries are: Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, MyanmarRwandaSomalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Out of those 10 countries, the U.S. is giving military aid to Chad, DRC, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and now to the Syrian opposition.

“In Syria, the TIP Report says that both the Syrian army and the opposition forces are forcing children to serve as fighters, porters, servants, and even executioners,” said Eaves. “With hundreds of thousands of Syrian children now at risk for all forms of exploitation, including as soldiers, now is the time to show Syrian children and all children at risk for forced recruitment that the United States will work to stop the use of children as weapons of war.”

“The TIP report is a powerful tool for fighting human trafficking, and the U.S. uses it effectively for positive change both at home and abroad. Yet if the U.S. is not going to use their best tool to challenge and assist countries using children in their armies, it could undermine U.S. efforts to call out countries that need to do more to protect trafficked and exploited people,” said Eaves. “The U.S. government must use this report to maintain its position as a leader in the fight against human trafficking, and not let politics win over protection of the millions of vulnerable children around the world.”

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World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews.