ABU DHABI // Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak has pledged to fund a new shelter in the capital for victims of human trafficking, the state news agency WAM reported. It was announced earlier this year that Sheikha Fatima, the widow of Sheikh Zayed, the late founder of the nation, would donate the land for the centre. Sheika Fatima is also chairwoman of the UAE General Women's Union and honorary chairwoman of the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA).
The creation of the centre, which will offer women and children who have been trafficked medical care, counselling and support, was created on the order of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and president of the RCA. "Sheikha Fatima's initiative boosts the government's strategy to combat human trafficking and ease the suffering of victims," Sheikh Hamdan said. "This is a great initiative that complements the strategy of the UAE Government to combat human trafficking, a phenomenon that is alien to UAE society."
He also issued a resolution appointing the centre's board, which will be chaired by Sana Darwish al Kitbi, one of his advisers on humanitarian affairs. The executive director of the centre was named as Sara Ibrahim Shuhail. The centre is the latest of a series of steps taken by the UAE against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The issue was discussed earlier this month during talks between Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the US president, George W Bush, at the US presidential retreat, Camp David.
In July it was announced that an awareness campaign would be launched by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, while in the same month a UAE delegation visited an anti-human trafficking centre in Belarus. The first legislation to define human trafficking as a crime was introduced in 2006. It gives the courts the power to impose jail terms of between one year and life and fines of up to Dh1 million (US$272,000) on offenders.