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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Trafficking hits 'alarming' level
By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Geneva

Prostitute, Italy
Women are often lured to EU countries to work as prostitutes
A new report on trafficking in south-eastern Europe says the trade in human beings - both adults and children - is reaching alarming proportions.

The study from the International Organisation for Migration found new trends in trafficking were emerging.

This is because traffickers are developing new ways to recruit victims and get them across borders.

The report shows that every year over 1,000 victims are identified and helped in south-eastern Europe.

These are the ones who escape and who come forward.

The IOM believes it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Victims of trafficking are predominantly young, poor and very vulnerable.

Legal papers

And while countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Albania have succeeded in warning young girls not to respond to newspaper advertisements for jobs abroad, the traffickers have found new ways to recruit.

Vulnerable young girls are targeted by young men: he starts off as a boyfriend, his real goal is to sell her into prostitution.

The report shows that women from Ukraine are being trafficked to south-eastern Europe as prostitutes.

Children from Romania and Moldova are ending up in Russia or Poland in begging gangs, and a growing number of men are being trafficked.

In Albania, 70% of victims trafficked for work or begging were male.

Meanwhile, the reach of the traffickers is growing.

In south-eastern Europe the IOM found victims who had been trafficked from China, Iraq and Lebanon.

Many victims now cross borders at official crossing points, with legal identity papers - making it, ironically, all the harder to spot them.

The IOM is calling for greater assistance for victims, in particular children, and greatly improved cooperation between governments.

It is an international problem which demands an international response.

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