(WASHINGTON) — Twenty-seven million people worldwide are the victims of human trafficking, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday in her department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report.
Seventeen countries in particular were cited for doing little to stop the illegal trade of men, women and children, and the latest country to join the offenders is Syria, according to the State Department.
Already facing sanctions because of its violent crackdown on political opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, Damascus could find itself in an even deeper hole with the world community for failing to stem the trafficking of women into its country for the purpose of forced labor and sex trade.
These unwilling victims come from Indonesia, the Philippines and Somalia, the State Department says.
Meanwhile, Syria is also accused of enslaving many Iraqi refugees who have come to its country to escape the aftermath of the eight-year-long war.
While the news is bad for Syria and other offenders, the Trafficking in Persons report said the number of countries facing U.S. sanctions is down from 23 last year. Two governments now off the list are Myanmar, which has just reestablished relations with the U.S., and Venezuela.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN
Ben Westcott, CNN