Thursday, March 24, 2005

Human trafficking?

My Google alerts turned up this story from a Finnish newspaper:


A group of 48 Georgian women who arrived in Finland by bus from Russia last week were flown to the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Tuesday. Also taking the Finnair chartered flight were two men - an interpreter and the women’s tour leader.
The plane carrying the group left Lappeenranta Airport at noon on Tuesday.
The two bus drivers, who had Russian visas, crossed back into Russia on Sunday. The women would also have preferred to go through Russia, but Russia would not grant them visas for the journey.

The Georgians were stopped at the Vaalimaa border crossing on Tuesday last week on suspicion that the trip might involve trafficking in humans.
The members of the group had Schengen visas granted by the Swedish Embassy in Moscow, and the leader of the group said that the plan was to go via Central Europe to Italy and Greece, and from there through Turkey back to Georgia.
Border officials noted that the tour fit the profile of suspected systematic human smuggling that Greek officials had noted in November. It was reported that busloads of women had been arriving in the EU via Vaalimaa, and that the buses had left via Greece with only two or three people on board. A total of 1,500 women on 30 buses are believed to have arrived in the EU in this manner.

Finnish officials said that the women did not know the exact route that they were supposed to take, and that some of them had inadequate funds, considering the length of the trip.
The women were seen as victims of human trafficking, whereas the men were interrogated as suspects.

The Georgian women have complained that their reputations have been ruined by the whole affair.

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