Human trafficking initiative

Bishops of Southern Africa launch initiative to fight human trafficking

Every week 300 people enter illegally into South Africa from Mozambique

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides, Vatican) – “Human trafficking in the IMBISA Region is complex and is fueled by a wide range of factors and these include poverty, dysfunctional economies, conflicts and demands for cheap labour. The exact number of people who are lured into trafficking in the IMBISA Region remains unknown because of the non-availability of official statistics on this scourge,” affirms a statement sent to Fides. The Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) is formed by the Bishops’ Conferences of Angola and Sao Tome, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland, Losotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

“The governments are aware of this problem but they seem to give it low priority. Most of the countries of our region do not have enough resources both human and financial to deal with the problem of human trafficking,” the statement says. “Religious groups can play a significant role in raising awareness and acting on this issue with the support of their governments to curb this problem. With the coming of the FIFA World Cup to South Africa, it has been noted that this occasion has become a way of sending people to traffickers. All those people who would like to make some money during the World Cup have become vulnerable to trafficking, especially girls who are told that they will be waitresses or tour guides for the visitors.”
It is in the light of the above mentioned human trafficking problems that IMBISA with the assistance of Planet Waves, organised and held a meeting on Human Trafficking. The meeting took place at Midrand Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, from the 18th -19th May 2010. Four Conferences were represented: Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. In his welcome remarks, Fr. Richard Menatsi, Director of IMBISA, outlined the purpose of the meeting as drawing the world’s attention to the plight of women and children who are trafficked into South Africa from Mozambique at the rate of 300 persons per week. The purpose is also to discuss the role of the Catholic Church within the IMBISA region in combating human trafficking.
The participants resolved to organize workshops in their own countries and these workshops are aimed at raising awareness about the seriousness of the problem of Human Trafficking and mapping a way forward in the fight against it. The planned workshops will cover the following: Definition of Human Trafficking, How the Traffickers Operate, How to Identify Victims of Human Trafficking, Victim Assistance, Social Teaching of the Church, the Church’s Position on the Issue and the Way Forward. These workshops will take place as follows; mid-July 2010 – Zimbabwe, First week of October, Lesotho and second week of October, Namibia and lastly in November, South Africa.

From Agenzia Fides – 24/05/2010 – Vatican City

More information at: www.fides.org