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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                                

Syrian Arab Republic

The Syrian economy grew by an estimated 2.4% in real terms in 2008 led by the petroleum and agricultural sectors, which together account for about one-half of GDP.

Long-run economic constraints include declining oil production, high unemployment and inflation, rising budget deficits, and increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and water pollution.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Syria

Syria is principally a destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Women from Iraq, Eastern Europe, former Soviet states, Somalia, and Morocco are recruited as cabaret dancers and subsequently forced into prostitution after their employers confiscate their passports and confine them to their work premises. A significant number of women and children in the large Iraqi refugee community in Syria are forced into sexual exploitation by criminal gangs or, in some cases, their families. Some desperate Iraqi families reportedly abandon their girls at the border with the expectation that traffickers on the Syrian side would arrange forged documents for the children and “work” in a nightclub or brothel. Iraqi families arrange for young girls to work in clubs and to be "married," often multiple times, to men for the sole purpose of prostitution. Some Iraqi women and girls who turn to prostitution out of economic desperation are trafficked back into Syria after they are arrested and deported. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Syria.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Iraqi children forced into prostitution in Syria

Business Travellers against Human Trafficking, Global news on human trafficking, 6/24/2005

[accessed 28 December 2010]

[accessed 11 September 2014]

[scroll down]

There is growing evidence of Iraqi children being used as prostitutes in Syria. It is estimated that there are around 700,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria, many of whom are struggling in situations of poverty. Cases are emerging of families sending their teenage daughters to work as prostitutes, in order to survive.  Abdelhamid El Ouali, the representative for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Damascus said “”It’s a serious problem because there are young girls doing this — 11, 12, 13 years old,” There is little or no discussion of this in Syria, and the government does not release figures on prostitution.

The Fight Against Human Trafficking In Syria

Maddey Bussmann, The Borgen Project, 24 November 2020

[accessed 3 March 2021]

The Syrian government has not held anyone accountable for these crimes. In fact, the government is often complicit in trafficking. Traffickers often force children displaced within Syria’s borders into combat as child soldiers. On the battlefield, regime soldiers use children as human shields or suicide bombers. The regime soldiers also trap women and young girls into marriage or force them into prostitution.

Due to the size of refugee populations, surrounding countries have reduced the number of visas they grant, leaving refugees with no choice but to cross borders illegally. Doing so means their fate is in the hands of smugglers. But, staying in Syria would mean having to survive unconscionable levels of violence and struggling to attain even the most basic resources.



*** ARCHIVES ***

U.S. human trafficking report: China, Iran, N. Korea worst offenders

Nicholas Sakelaris, United Press International UPI, 20 June 2019

[accessed 20 June 2019]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday human trafficking is a strain on humanity that violates basic human rights. He named China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba among the worst offenders.

Those countries all scored the lowest on the 2019 Trafficking in Person report released by the U.S. State Department.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Syria

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 27 June 2021]


Terrorist groups, including ISIS and the HTS, reportedly forced, coerced, or fraudulently recruited some foreigners, including migrants from Central Asia, children, and Western women, to join them. Thousands of Yezidi women and girl captives of ISIS remained missing and were presumed to have been victims of sex trafficking and subjected to domestic servitude (see section 1.g.).


Child labor occurred in the country in both informal sectors, including begging, domestic work, and agriculture, as well as in positions related to the conflict, such as lookouts, spies, and informants. Conflict-related work subjected children to significant dangers of retaliation and violence.

Various forces, particularly terrorist groups and regime-aligned groups, continued to recruit and use child soldiers (see section 1.g.).

Organized begging rings continued to subject children displaced within the country to forced labor.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 5 May 2020]


Many armed groups engage in forced conscription or the use of child soldiers. Displaced people are especially vulnerable to labor exploitation and human trafficking, and there is little equality of opportunity even in relatively stable government-controlled areas, as access to employment and investment is often dependent on personal, political, or communal affiliations.

UN urged to investigate ISIS's bloody trade in human organs after Iraqi ambassador reveals doctors are being executed for not harvesting body parts

John Hall for MailOnline, The Daily Mail, 18 February 2015

[accessed 18 February 2015]

The al-Monitor report also claims the terror organisation has even set up a specialist organ-smuggling division whose sole responsibility is to sell human hearts, livers and kidneys on the lucrative international black market.

'[Al-Mosuli] said that lately he noticed unusual movement within medical facilities in Mosul Arab and foreign surgeons were hired, but prohibited from mixing with local doctors,' the report's author wrote. 'Information then leaked about organ selling.'

The report went on: 'Surgeries take place within a hospital and organs are quickly transported through networks specialized in trafficking human organs. Mosuli said that the organs come from fallen fighters who were quickly transported to the hospital, injured people who were abandoned or individuals who were kidnapped.'

Most of the organs are then smuggled out of Syria and Iraq into neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia or Turkey where criminal gangs sell them on to shady buyers across the globe, the Assyrian International News Agency reported.

Iraq-Syria-United Arab Emirates: Sex traffickers target women in war-torn Iraq

U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN,  Dubai, 26 October 2006

[accessed 9 March 2015]

TRAFFICKED TO SYRIA - The UAE is not the only destination for trafficked Iraqi women. Syria is increasingly becoming a popular destination for traffickers, according to humanitarian agencies.  A report released in May by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), the UN's Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) spoke of "organised networks dealing with the sex trade" in Syria. It made a correlation between the deteriorating conditions of Iraqi citizens and an increase in prostitution and trafficking of Iraqi sex workers.  "It is not possible to say how big the trafficking problem from Iraq to Syria is but we know it does exist," said Ann Maymann, a protection officer with UNHCR in Damascus. "It is something that has been kept quiet because people are afraid to talk about it."  Local activists in Syria say much more needs to be done to protect this vulnerable and increasingly exploited community.

Authorities tackle issue of human trafficking

U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, 13 September 2005

[accessed 9 March 2015]

A workshop in Syria to address the problem of human trafficking and raise awareness has greatly contributed to understanding the scope of the issue, government officials said as they consider new anti-trafficking legislation.  The workshop was held in Damascus on 11-12 September by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior.   “The holding of this workshop does not imply that there is serious trafficking problem in Syria. The Syrian authorities took the initiative to cooperate with IOM in organizing this workshop as part of the capacity building activities of IOM in Syria,” Richard Danziger, Head of IOM’s Counter Trafficking Service, said in Damascus.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is not present in Syria

Arabic News, 1/9/2002

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Al-Sheikh added that in his presentation to the Congress he pointed out that the problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children is not present in Syria, and that prostitution and pornography is very small, due to the firm social and families ties.

Syria human rights record

Arabic News, 3/10/2001

[accessed 28 December 2010]

There is no law prohibiting forced or compulsory labor, including that performed by children. There were no reports of forced labor involving children or foreign or domestic workers.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 5 May 2020]

Warring parties in the Syrian conflict continue to disregard human rights and humanitarian law protections. Over 400,000 have died since 2011. The Syrian government, with the support of its allies, raced to secure territories, using prohibited chemical weapons, unlawful indiscriminate attacks, and withholding humanitarian aid, while anti-government groups indiscriminately attacked government-held areas and prevented civilians fleeing. Both groups carried out arbitrary detentions, kidnappings and torture. While the battle against ISIS is winding down, civilian casualties from US-led coalition airstrikes increased, and their Kurdish-led allies continued to restrict the movement of those displaced from ISIS areas.  As active conflict decreased, Russia and Syria called for refugees to return and Syria passed laws to facilitate reconstruction even as it continued to violate human rights.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – There were reports by NGOs and the press that indicate Iraqi women may be subjected to sexual exploitation in prostitution by Iraqi criminal networks in the country, but those reports were not confirmed. A 2003 IOM study indicated that some individuals brought into the country to work as domestic workers suffered conditions that constituted involuntary servitude, including physical and sexual abuse, threats of expulsion, denial or delayed payment of wages, withholding of passports, and restriction of movement. The IOM study documented cases in which manpower agencies in the country that hired foreign domestic workers lured some victims through fraudulent or deceptive offers of employment, despite the fact that such manpower agencies are banned.

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