Five Vietnamese children, together with 25 contemporaries from the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries, are in Bangkok, Thailand for the third Mekong Youth Forum on Human Trafficking and Migration.
The week-long forum aims to inform policy makers and the public about a range of risks children in the region face. Delegates at the forum are also discussing measures to better protect at-risk children and youth from exploitation and trafficking.
Participants from countries, including Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, will discuss and share their first-hand experiences with migration or trafficking. The five Vietnamese children were selected by 85 delegates at the National Children's Conference in August.
Nguyen Thi Mai An, 15, from the central Highlands province of Kon Tum, told te English-language daily Vietnam News before her departure that she and her friends would walk along the border near her home to disseminate information about human trafficking to local residents.
They provided the local children with information about human trafficking and held talks and spread the slogans: "Listen to the children's cry on the other side of borderline" and "Put traffickers into a prison cell!"
She said that the province was home to several ethnic minority groups, so the communication campaign attached importance to understanding the groups' cultures first.
"Vietnamese children want more information about how to combat human trafficking, as well as how to protect themselves," said An. "We also want to achieve more cooperation to deal with these issues at the regional forum."
At the meeting, the participants are using creative methods to tell their stories, discuss human trafficking and migration, and talk about potential future action plans. Groups of artists will work as co-facilitators to help children prepare their own creative presentations.
According to the organiser, the regional forum aims to institutionalise the participation of children and youth in local, national and regional anti-trafficking programmes.
The forum's results will be discussed by leaders from the region at the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking's official meeting.
Between 2004-09, about 1,600 human trafficking cases were reported, involving 2,900 traffickers and 4,000 victims. Most trafficking victims are women and children.
The forum has been co-organised by the International Labour Organisation, World Vision, Save the Children UK and the UN Inter-agency Project on Human Trafficking./.