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UNICEF warns about trafficking during World Cup


June 15, 2006

Heightened risk of child trafficking and sexual exploitation during sporting event

NEW YORK, – UNICEF today expressed its deep concern that children and women could be trafficked and subjected to sexual exploitation during the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Some seven million fans are expected to attend the football event in Germany. According to news reports, a large brothel is being constructed close to the main venue for the World Cup in Berlin. Prostitution is legal in Germany.

Last week, the U.S. State Department released its 2006 Trafficking in Persons report, which noted the potential of increased human trafficking during the World Cup matches. According to the report, Germany is a transit and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe. In January, the European Parliament warned about the trafficking of women and children during the games. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 1 million children are trafficked every year.

While UNICEF welcomes the German government’s efforts to fight child trafficking and child prostitution, it is concerned that children may still be trafficked into Germany from surrounding countries in Eastern Europe, where trafficking of young girls for sexual exploitation, forced labour and begging is a common problem.

“Trafficking and sexual exploitation deprive children of their dignity and put their safety, health and education in peril,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said in New York. “Caught in an underworld of illegality and violence, trafficked and sexually exploited children virtually disappear. Such abuse of children cannot be tolerated during the World Cup or any other time.”

UNICEF helps fight against the sexual exploitation of children around the world. Global estimates indicate that as many as 1.8 million children, most of them girls, are exploited in the multi-billion-dollar commercial sex trade.

Many of these children are trafficked within and between countries, where they are forced into prostitution, pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation. They are often denied their right to an education, endure sexual abuse and violence, and become more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.

UNICEF’s efforts to protect children from trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse focus on creating a protective environment for children. In a protective environment, people at all levels of society work individually and together to enforce protective laws, develop the necessary services, equip children and those who work with children with the information and skills they need to prevent and respond to abuse, and challenge all forms of discrimination.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Karen Dukess, UNICEF Media, +1 212 303 – 7910,


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