Over 3,200 people of various nationalities, including 93 Turks, have become victims of human trafficking in Turkey in the last 18 years while the PKK terrorist organization has been involved in kidnapping children to accomplish its nefarious goals, according to the country’s migration management head.
Since 2004, over 3,247 people have been identified as victims of human trafficking in the country, including 30 children who were kidnapped by the PKK, the head of the Migration Management Directorate, Savaş Ünlü, told Anadolu Agency (AA) on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which is observed worldwide on Saturday.
In the first seven months of 2022, 245 victims were identified in over 11,000 interviews with migration authorities, Ünlü said, adding that 402 people were victims of human trafficking in 2021 as identified in over 8,000 interviews.
Among the victims identified were 93 Turkish citizens, some of whom were victimized abroad, he said, adding that “five Turkish citizens who were held in captivity and forced to work abroad were rescued from the hands of a criminal organization with the support of an international organization.”
“To date, 30 children, including 14 girls, kidnapped by the PKK have been identified as victims of human trafficking by 14 different provincial migration administration directorates,” he said, noting that the PKK continues to use children in terrorist acts.
The PKK terrorist group’s Syrian branch, the YPG, continued to recruit child soldiers last year in northern Syria, according to a United Nations report released recently.
The group backed by the United States and Western nations recruited 221 child soldiers, according to the annual Children and Armed Conflict report by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The report covers the period from January to December 2021 and lists parties that engage in the recruitment and use of children, the killing and maiming of children and sexual violence against children, among other things.
The report also said another branch of the YPG, the so-called “Internal Security Forces,” recruited 24 children as soldiers in northern and eastern Syria. In addition, the “Afrin Liberation Forces,” linked to the same terror group, recruited two children in 2021.
According to the report, the “Internal Security Forces” jailed 43 children, while the YPG imprisoned six children in regions they occupied.
“At the end of 2021, over 800 children, including foreigners, reportedly remained in detention for alleged association with Daesh in the north-eastern Syrian Arab Republic,” said the report, referring to YPG-run prisons.
The report also recorded that the YPG killed 55 children in 2021, while the “Internal Security Forces” and “Afrin Liberation Forces” killed 18 children last year.
It also reported attacks on 45 schools and hospitals in Syria, saying 26 of them were carried out by the Bashar Assad regime and pro-regime forces while 12 of them were attributed to the YPG terror group.
The group also seized 12 schools and hospitals for military use. It also denied humanitarian access to children.
One of the important turning points in Turkey’s fight against human trafficking was the 2002 addition of human trafficking as a crime to the Turkish Penal Code, Ünlü said.
The day is marked every year on July 30 to raise awareness of this serious global problem.
An estimated 40.3 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).