Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told Aljazeera.net on Monday that Yemen, as "an Islamic country that respected international law", could not accept the report's unsourced allegations and hoped Washington would substantiate its claims.

"We have contacted the State Department to ask them to check the accuracy of their information," he said.

However, al-Qirbi said that a second claim made in the report – namely that Yemeni boys were being trafficked to Saudi Arabia for exploitation as street vendors and unskilled laborers – had been acknowledged by the government in Sanaa prior to the report's publication.

"Indeed, the information published in the US report was a repeat of official government reports by our Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of the Interior," he added.

"Naturally, we were already doing our utmost to stamp out child trafficking, which grew for a number of socio-economic reasons. But this relatively new phenomenon cannot make, as this report claims, Yemen an 'international' hub for trading in children," al-Qirbi said.

Positive aspects

Although the report claimed Yemeni women and underage girls were also begin trafficked internally from rural areas to the cities, the State Department text was not entirely negative.

Acknowledging that trafficking in Yemen was "a new issue", the document added that Sanaa was "making significant efforts" to deal with the problem despite a chronic lack of resources.

The report advised the Arab republic to appoint a national coordinator to oversee its anti-trafficking efforts and develop a national strategy to combat the crime.

In recent months, Yemen has investigated 12 trafficking cases, prosecuted two alleged traffickers and produced one trafficking-related conviction over the past year.

Yemeni security forces interdicted and curtailed several child trafficking attempts and conducted sweeps in Sanaa and Aden that resulted in more arrests.