(Vatican Radio) “[T]he Holy See urges the Security Council to take a greater role in the fight against the scourge of trafficking in persons.” That is the message of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who was invited this week to address the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Trafficking in persons in conflict situations: forced labour, slavery and other similar practices, at UN Headquarters in New York.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, personally opened the debate, describing the issue as one of global scope and massive proportions.
“Trafficking networks have gone global,” he said, citing statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, to say that victims can be found in 106 countries.
The International Labour Organization, meanwhile, reports that 21 million people around the world are victims of forced labour and extreme exploitation, and that the total annual profits are estimated to be $150 billion.
“Beyond these numbers is the human toll,” Guterres said, “the lives cut short, the families and societies torn apart, the gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”
Guttieres said, “Women and girls in particular are targeted again and again and again. We see brutal sexual exploitation, including forced prostitution, forced marriage and sexual slavery,” though, “human trafficking takes many forms.”
In remarks prepared for the occasion and dated March 15, Archbishop Auza calls on the Security Council to take a leading role in trafficking prevention, especially by recognizing the close connection between trafficking and the persistence of armed conflicts.
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Archbishop Auza says, “The challenge that trafficking in persons poses is immense and requires a commensurate response. Today, that response is still far from being equal to the challenge.”
Archbishop Auza goes on to say, “[M]uch more still needs to be done on the level of raising public awareness and effecting a better coordination of efforts by governments, the judiciary, law enforcement officials and social workers to save the millions of children, women and men who are still deprived of freedom and are forced to live in slave-like conditions.”