Qatar Airways is proud to be the first Middle Eastern airline to sponsor a national forum targeted at combatting human trafficking. The Combatting Human Trafficking Forum was opened on Sunday by Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, and was also addressed by the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, and Head of the National Committee for Combatting Human Trafficking, His Excellency Dr. Issa Al Jafali Al Nuaimi, who advised the forum of the many initiatives undertaken by the State of Qatar to address the issue.

Also in attendance were the Chairman of Labour Sector at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, and Secretary General of National Committee for Combatting Human Trafficking, Mr. Mohammad Hassan Al Obaidly; Chairman of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, His Excellency Mr. Abdulla N. Turki Al Subaey; Director of Airport Security, Department at Ministry of Interior, Brigadier Essa Arar Al Rumaihi; and Director of Airport Passports Department, at Ministry of Interior, Colonel Muhammad Rashid Al Mazroui.

The airline also brought representatives from key international partner organisations to share valuable information and inspiration with forum delegates. These included International Aviation Transport Association (IATA) Assistant Director, External Affairs, Mr. Tim Colehan; United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Advisor on Human Trafficking, Ms. Youla Haddadin; United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Technical Officer, Mr. Martin Maurino; and Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) Board Member, Pastor Donna Hubbard, who is a survivor of human trafficking.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways is exceptionally proud to be the first Middle Eastern airline to bring this forum to the Middle Eastern region. It is particularly meaningful at this time because member airlines at the 74th IATA Annual General Meeting, held earlier this year, unanimously approved a resolution denouncing human trafficking and committed to a number of important anti-trafficking initiatives.

“As Chairman of the IATA Board of Governors, I am pleased to be able to give my advocacy and support to this vital resolution. As a member airline, we are committed to raising awareness about human trafficking across our country and the world, to train our staff on every aircraft and in every office around the globe. We are in the business of freedom, and we will not allow this crime to fly under the radar.”

The Combatting Human Trafficking Forum also supports Qatar’s considerable initiatives in advancing laws, infrastructure and programmes and policies that prevent human trafficking. The State of Qatar demonstrated its commitment to addressing challenges at the U.S. – Qatar Strategic Dialogue earlier this year, when the foreign ministers of both countries signed the U.S. – Qatar Anti-Trafficking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Additionally, the Qatar National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking hosts workshops and provides advice and resources to address this global priority.

Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department released the ‘2018 Trafficking in Persons Report’, an annual publication documenting the efforts of 187 governments in combating human trafficking. This year’s report ranked Qatar at Tier Two, the second highest of four possible rankings, and cited efforts by the State of Qatar to prevent human trafficking.

Additionally, IATA and the Airports Council International (ACI) have launched a human trafficking awareness campaign called ‘#eyesopen’, urging airline staff and the travelling public to have their ‘eyes open’ to human trafficking. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) launched its ‘Blue Heart Campaign’ in 2009 as a global awareness-raising initiative to fight human trafficking and its impact on society. ICAO has produced resources for aviation cabin crew in effort to raise awareness about human trafficking. Resources from all of these initiatives will be used across the aviation sector as part of a collaborative global effort to end human trafficking.