By Magdalena Mis
LONDON, June 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The European Union is a magnet for human traffickers from Asia and must run better programmes in the region if it is to combat the global trade in people, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors.
Despite funding 31 million euros ($34.5 million) worth of projects in South and Southeast Asia between 2009 and 2015, the EU's vague objectives and a lack of local commitment meant the investments were not as effective as had been hoped, it said.
"Trafficking in human beings is a highly profitable crime, a gross violation of human rights and a global security threat," said Bettina Jakobsen of the European Court of Auditors.
"The EU must better prioritise how and where it spends its available resources so that the level of activity matches its financial commitments," she said in a statement.
While the fight against human trafficking in the region has improved, there were wide varieties between countries and it was hard to link progress to the EU programmes, said the report, which was published on Tuesday.
Some of the problems highlighted - a lack of meetings with government in Indonesia and technical problems in Bangladesh.
The Luxembourg-based European Court of Auditors, which oversees EU spending, said the EU should adjust its programmes to suit local needs so as to improve their effectiveness.
Almost 46 million people globally are living as slaves, trafficked into exploitation, sold for sex or trapped in debt bondage, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index.
($1 = 0.8975 euros) (Reporting by Magdalena Mis @magdalenamis1, editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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