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Credit: Caritas

Faith-based organisations from over 40 countries agreed at a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria to combine forces and work more closely together on stopping human trafficking.

The One Human Family, One Voice, No Human Trafficking conference took place 5-7 September. It was organised by Caritas Internationalis and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and hosted by Caritas Nigeria.

Cardinal Luis Tagle, Caritas Internationalis president, said, “The many forms of human trafficking lead to the exploitation of human beings: it is a crime against humanity.”

“We should be the conscience of society,” said the cardinal. He called for Church and faith-based communities to have compassion for the victims of human trafficking and emphasised the need to educate.

Organisations committed to actively contributing to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a series of internationally agreed targets including ones specifically linked to human trafficking.

Conference participants urged in a final statement governments to develop humane migration and integration policies, such as lawful and safe channels of labour migration.

Delegates emphasised the need to ratify and implement legal instruments such as the UN Convention on International Organized Crime and its Palermo Protocol, ILO Forced Labour Protocol and ILO Convention concerning work in the Fishing Sector.

The organisations present committed to tackling all aspects of human trafficking. It will be prioritised in areas of work such as health, counselling, decent work, education, youth work and emergency response.

Delegates will raise awareness about less known areas were trafficking occurs such as trafficking in the maritime industry or trafficking in crisis situations. They also vowed to educate families on the dangers of trafficking and engage and train religious leaders and other key people in faith communities and churches.

This commitment is inspired by Pope Francis’ 2014 declaration with other faith leaders to eradicate modern slavery.

Participants in the conference, which was hosted by Caritas Nigeria, included Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja; Archbishop Augustine Kasujia, Papal Nuncio to Nigeria; Msgr. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Council for Sciences; Msgr; Archbishop Augustine Kasujia, Papal Nuncio to Nigeria; Msgr. Robinson Wijesinghe, Director of Office of the Pontifical Council of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People; Bishop Gabriel Anokye, President of Caritas Africa, Bishop Lucius Ugorji, President of Caritas Nigeria and Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, former UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons.

National, regional and international Organisations addressing at the conference included The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons of Nigeria, the Anti-Slavery Independent Commissioner of the United Kingdom, the African Union, the International Labour Organization.

Also participating were the Apostleship of the Sea Talitha Kum; the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations and Jesuit Refugee Service; plus Christian Organisations and Churches, such as the Anglican Alliance, the Church of Sweden, the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa, HAART Kenya and a Muslim organisation, Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society of Nigeria. Among participants were representatives of the Bishops’ Conferences and Caritas organisations of Africa, Europe, Asia and the USA.