NICOSIA Ñ The Republic of Cyprus serves as a major hub for the
illegal trafficking of human beings to the Persian Gulf.
Cypriot officials said thousands of women are brought to the Republic of
Cyprus every year, where they are sold into prostitution to Gulf Cooperation
Council states. The officials said the United Arab Emirates is a leading
destination of the traffic.
The Republic of Cyprus has been urged to introduce tough legislation to
stop the country from being deemed as a major hub of human trafficking and
prostitution. Parliamentarians are calling for legislation that will
restrict the entry of foreigners and impose curbs on so-called marriage of
"We are known, in female trafficking circles, either as a final
destination point or a go-between on the way to the Middle East, usually the
United Arab Emirates," Greek Cypriot parliamentarian Eleni Theocharous told
the Nicosia-based Cyprus Mail newspaper. "The issue is raised at every
international human rights conference or Council of Europe meeting. I have
been investigating the matter for a year, and there is definitely a
The House Human Rights Committee has condemned the use of the island for
the international market in prostitutes. Parliamentarians said most women
brought to Cyprus arrive as illegal residents and are blackmailed by their
agents who force them into prostitution.
The committee heard testimony that reported that many young women arrive
to the republic and enroll as university students. They end up working in
bars and then move into prostitution.