High ranking officials of the Lao Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare acknowledge that the number of Lao women and children who have fallen victims of human trafficking is alarmingly increasing, and that the US government has agreed to assist Laos in solving and preventing this problem.
The officials, though admitting that the number is large, say they do not have the exact figure of how many of the victims have been trafficked to Thailand.
However, during the course of a three-year cooperation between Lao and Thai authorities on this matter, as
many as 1,100 women and children who were trafficked to Thailand have been rescued and sent back to Laos.
According to Thailand's Ministry of Labor, there are over 400,000 Lao workers currently working in Thailand. But only 80,000 of that number have properly registered to work there legally. This means that more than 300,000 of those are illegal workers, and over 60% of them are women and children who are at risk of falling into the trap of transnational human trafficking in Thailand.
Lao authorities acknowledge that it is a daunting task for them to prevent Lao workers from sneaking into Thailand to seek employment and work illegally there since Laos and Thailand share a common border of almost 2,000 kilometer long. Another factor is the inability of the Lao government to create enough jobs for its growing workforce.
Nevertheless, Lao officials believe that the gravity of this problem will be mitigated if they receive cooperation from foreign governments and the international community in developing and lifting Lao workers' skills to the standard of foreign companies.
Aware of this situation, the U.S. government, via its embassy in Vientiane, has agreed to help Laos combat the problem, aimed at reducing the number of Lao women and children falling into the trap of transnational human trafficking and trafficked to Thailand.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.