NEW YORK (July 5, 2012) — Celebrated actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Jackie Chan arrived in Myanmar this week on a three-day mission to help combat child trafficking.
Chan will meet children who have been trafficked and are now receiving help to recover from the suffering and distress caused by this multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise. Every year, some 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide.
In Myanmar, Chan will visit a vocational training center for trafficked children who have managed to return home but are in need of special care and support. He will also travel to UNICEF-supported projects assisting children at risk of being trafficked, including those without parental care and children who are living and working on the street.
He will discuss how to effectively combat trafficking with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and with members of Myanmar's Police Anti-Trafficking Task Force in Mandalay.
In the lead up to the trip, Chan said, "Trafficking and exploiting children are horrific crimes. They leave lifelong scars and rob children of their childhoods. Children are not for sale. For the sake the world's children, we must work hard to stamp out these damaging and criminal practices."
Trafficking exposes children to physical violence, sexual abuse, and grave emotional distress. In East and Southeast Asia the trafficking industry is fueled by demand for cheap or exploitable labor, commercial sex with children, adoption outside legal channels, and forcing women or girls into exploitative marriages.
Trafficking is also closely linked to migration. Tens of millions of people migrate for work within their own countries and across borders in the region. When they are far away from their homes and support systems, families, and especially children, face an increased risk of being trafficked.
If youth have essential information and education on how to protect themselves, the risks of being trafficked can be reduced. Jackie Chan plans to deliver messages about self-protection to young people in Myanmar during his visit.
"It is very important that young people know how to protect themselves," said Chan. "Simple things, like knowing not to trust anyone who promises you a dream job in another country; never going to an unknown place alone; knowing your parents' and your own full name and age; and being able to explain where you live, help children guard against traffickers."
Jackie Chan has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2004, using his celebrity status as a vehicle to promote humanitarian progress for the most disadvantaged children.
"Jackie Chan is hugely popular in Myanmar, and he is a strong and dedicated advocate of child rights," said Ramesh Shrestha, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar. "Children and teenagers are inspired by his martial arts skills, bravery, adventure and humor. He will be a source of inspiration and encouragement to young generations," he said.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.