15 June 2008

Uganda: Rwanda Girls Trafficked for Sex Trade

Kampala — CHILDREN from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi are reportedly trafficked into Uganda for sexual exploitation, commercial and agricultural labour, according to a United States report.

The leading traffickers, according to the report, are employers, companies which send security guards to Iraq and the LRA rebels.

"Some security companies in Kampala recruit Ugandans to serve as security guards in Iraq where, at times, reportedly they withhold their travel documents and pay as a means to prevent their departure; this may constitute trafficking."

The report is titled '2008 Trafficking in Persons' and was issued ON June 11.

Uganda, it said, is a destination of forced labour workers from Pakistan, India and China.

Ugandan children, the report states, are trafficked within or taken to Canada, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia for sexual slavery.

"Karimojong women and children are sold in cattle markets or by intermediaries and forced into domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, herding and begging," the report said.

The report, the eighth of its kind, was released by the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on June 4 to raise the level of awareness worldwide and to stimulate action to address the crime of human trafficking.

The various forms of human trafficking, the report stated, constitute "modern-day slavery."

It singled out Uganda as "a steadfast partner" and promised to stand by any nation committed to fighting the crime.

"We are aware of that problem. The Government is dealing with it in collaboration with international partners," internal affairs minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda said yesterday.

On the LRA, the report noted: "Until August 2006, the terrorist rebel organisation abducted children and adults in northern Uganda to serve as soldiers, sex slaves and porters." It said the LRA exported its abductions to the Central African Republic and the DR Congo where at least 300 additional people, mostly children, were abducted since February.

Ugandan Police say child trafficking crimes increased last year. In a report, the Police chief Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, said 54 children had been kidnapped, abducted or stolen. Seven victims of trafficking were rescued, the Police said.

The US report saluted a rights group, the Law and Advocacy for Women in Uganda, for delivering a private members Bill in Parliament urging legislators to address the problem.

"Together, we remain committed to act as a voice for the many voiceless victims of this crime," the report said.

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