ABU DHABI // The UAE and Australia have further strengthened their commitment to tackle human trafficking and people smuggling around the world.
Pablo Kang, Australia's ambassador to the UAE, said an agreement signed on Monday between the UAE's National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking and the department of immigration and citizenship of Australia was a significant step in the global fight against the problem.
"We are in good dialogue with the UAE. Human trafficking is a global problem and the UAE is dealing with it," he said.
The agreement was signed by Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, along with Jim Williams, first assistant secretary, visa and offshore services, at the department of immigration and citizenship of Australia.
Dr Gargash said the UAE was seeking to establish cooperation with all countries to address the issue of human trafficking.
"The signing reflects the UAE's keen interest to support international efforts to eradicate such crimes," he said.
Dr Gargash stressed the importance of using expertise in each country to counter the growth in crimes related to human trafficking that have become a threat to national and international security, as well as economic stability.
"International cooperation to support victims of human trafficking and sharing of experiences to raise awareness on this issue should be treated with top priority," he said.
As part of the agreement, the UAE and Australia will exchange information on legislation to develop joint training programmes, Mr Kang said.
"We will work together to support victims of such crimes and exchange ways to rehabilitate them.
"We will support research and studies on measures to contain human-trafficking crimes and exchange expertise on the matter," he added.
Commenting last month on the UAE's work with Australia on fighting human trafficking, Bob Carr, Australia's foreign minister, said: "The UAE has been showing an impressive record, and cooperation on people smuggling and illegal migration issues is very important to us".
Earlier this year the UAE joined the Bali Process, an international agreement initiated in Indonesia in 2002 to handle large influxes of asylum seekers and to fight the trafficking of people.
More than 50 countries and numerous international agencies participate in the process, which is co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia.
"The difference between people smuggling and human trafficking is that in human trafficking people are moved across borders against their will, which the UAE deals with.
"People smuggling, however, involves people seeking to illegally reside in a country and are helped by persons there, a problem that we are dealing with in Australia," Mr Kang said.
Richard Marles, the Australian parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, said many people moving from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran come to Australia via the UAE, so the emirate's cooperation is "a boost in combating human trafficking".
"The UAE has achieved notable developments in combating human trafficking and has already been an observer of the Bali Process and active in it," Mr Marles said in January.