40 million victims of people trafficking

World Day against Human Trafficking – 30 July

On the occasion of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – 30 July – the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John has issued a Statement through FIDES, the News Agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

At this moment of COVID-19, we denounce a preoccupying reality for vulnerable people and an increased risk of trafficking. … The fact that our attention is today focused on the pandemic must not prevent us from taking care of the people most vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation.”

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), currently, there are 40 million people in our world today who are victims of human trafficking. This critical situation is exacerbated by the massive job losses resulting from government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

As can be seen in the document sent to FIDES, the Confederation of 162 national Caritas and the Christian anti-trafficking network COATNET underline how Covid-19 has focused the attention of governments in the health sector and insufficient attention was paid on the collateral damage of the ongoing pandemic, especially on migrants and informal workers, who are now more exposed to trafficking and exploitation. Lack of freedom of movement caused by the lockdown and travel restrictions means that victim of human trafficking have less chance of escaping and finding help when they are held in situations against their will.

Many Filipinos and other foreign workers, are struggling to return home after losing their jobs due to Covid-19 and the current economic crisis. They are now lined up in front of their embassies, without any social support or psychological protection and many of them are even without any legal status”, according to Gabriel Hatti, president of the Middle East and North Africa office of Caritas, denouncing the difficult situation experienced in Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries.

Furthermore, because of the restrictive measures it is more difficult for associations and authorities to identify victims of trafficking and exploitation, many of whom are children. During the pandemic, in fact, cases of violence against minors and the number of children victims of online exploitation have increased, to which they are exposed above all when they follow lessons at a distance with poor supervision by parents. During the lockdown in India, for example, 92,000 cases of child abuse were reported to the authorities in just 11 days. Even children of economically disadvantaged families could be forced to beg on the streets, thus being exposed to a high risk of exploitation.

With thanks to Agenzia Fides, 29/7/2020