Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Moldova in the New Yorker - Countertraffickers

I'm on a trip to Ottawa and I take all the New Yorkers that have been collecting dust with me and read them to get caught up. The May 5, 2008 issue has an article about a women who repatriates victims of human trafficking, based in Chisinau, Moldova; yes, that's the same country where Peter was in the Peace Corps. Here's a small excerpt, but I recommend reading the full article.

Even in this heyday of migration, Moldova is unusual. Of its four million people, more than six hundred thousand are working outside the country—more than a quarter of the economically active population. Remittances account for an estimated third of the gross national product. These percentages are among the world’s highest, and the main reason is the economy. In the Soviet system, Moldova had an agricultural niche and also its share of factories, many of them military. With independence, in 1991, factories closed and a strip of the country, known as Transnistria, east of the Dniester River, seceded. Transnistria was Moldova’s most industrialized part, and its most Russified. Moscow intervened to stop a civil war over the secession, and since 1992 Russian troops have watched over a “frozen conflict” that leaves Transnistria isolated, unrecognized by any nation, and Moldova sundered.

Moldova was, by the mid-nineties, the poorest country in Europe. (Kosovo may soon claim that spot.) Per-capita income is nearly the same as Sudan’s. A doctor earns two hundred dollars a month. Government corruption is pervasive. One of the few local growth industries is travel agencies—firms that promise to get you abroad, legally or otherwise, often for a large fee. Conditions are ideal for human trafficking.

You can read more about Moldova in Peter's weblog and his unique experience of having lived in such a poor country with a remittance-based economy that provides the breeding ground for such problems.

Note that the link to the article is on the title.