Airlines urged to step up fight against human trafficking

Author: Tim Hepher, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Published on: 5 June 2017

Airlines are being urged to train more flight attendants to help prevent human trafficking, placing cabin crew on the front line of the fight against sexual exploitation and slavery. Airline leaders meeting in Mexico will be briefed by the United Nations agency responsible for tackling the largely hidden crime, which the United Nations says nets smugglers $150 billion profit a year. "We want ... airlines to join our campaigns and our initiatives in order to make human trafficking and migrant smuggling visible," Felipe De La Torre of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told Reuters... More than 70,000 U.S. airline staff have been trained to identify smugglers and their victims in that way under the Blue Lightning initiative, launched in 2013 with the support of JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and others…But Nancy Rivard, a former flight attendant hailed as a pioneer of such training, said the U.S. federal programme is poorly funded and that the majority of foreign airlines are barely starting to focus on the problem….Although some airlines have mounted campaigns, this week's meeting of around 200 airline bosses marks the first time the issue has been discussed globally in aviation. Further steps could be discussed at IATA's next full meeting in 2018…Still, some of IATA's 117 nations face criticism over allegations of forced labour and some delegates questioned how willing they would be to draw attention to the issue, while airline chiefs may be reluctant to put their brands at risk. [also refers to Alaska Airlines]

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Related companies: Alaska Air Delta Air Lines JetBlue Airways