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The BBC's Alex Kroeger in Sarajevo
"It's a thriving trade"
 real 28k

Saturday, 3 March, 2001, 15:25 GMT
Vice bars raided in Bosnia

A night raid by Bosnian police freed 177 prostitutes from brothels across Bosnia, in a crackdown on prostitution and human trafficking.


This was the most significant coordinated police action taken to date by the police in Bosnia-Herzegovina to address the serious problem of human trafficking and forced prostitution

UN statement
Police acting under the supervision of the United Nations raided bars, hotels and nightclubs across the country in the largest operation of its kind.

More than 200 people were detained, many of them brothel owners.

Jacques Klein, the head of the United Nations in Bosnia, said that the simultaneous raid on 39 nightclubs had been planned for two months.

Coordination

He said the action, code-named "Makro", demonstrates that "it is possible for police throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina to coordinate activities in the fight against criminal activities".


This clearly demonstrates to us all that police training has paid off, professionalism has been enhanced and the ability to work constructively together is possible

Jacques Klein, Head of UN in Bosnia
Most of the women found during the raids were from Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

The women have been taken to safe houses for interview and those found to be trafficked will be offered the chance of repatriation.

In the past few years Bosnia has become a major destination country for trafficked women.

In the past year-and-a-half nearly 250 women have been rescued and voluntarily repatriated.

Thriving trade

Most of the trafficked women are brought in through Hungary or Yugoslavia before being sold on in the northern town of Brcko.

Some are as young as 13 and many are travelling on false passports or expired visas.

Many of them came to Bosnia on the assumption that they would be working as waitresses only to have their passports taken away.

Human rights officials say the international community is contributing to the demand for prostitution.

There are more than 20,000 peacekeeping troops here and more than 1,000 international police.

Corruption in the local police is sometimes the problem. Police salaries are low and they are often paid late.

Smaller operations have sometimes failed because the bar owner was tipped off, but this well-planned raid has been more successful.

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See also:

17 Nov 00 | Europe
UN swoops on Kosovo sex trade
30 Nov 00 | Europe
UN policemen disgraced in Bosnia
09 Feb 01 | Europe
EU tackles sex trade
27 Jan 00 | World
New weapon against child porn
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