, 04 October, 2019 / 3:58 AM
The African regional conference on human trafficking held in Kenya’s capital Nairobi opened with the recognition for multi-agency working in fighting against the vice of the trade of humans, Catholic Church leaders calling for collaboration.
“The Church and the government need to work hand in hand to end this evil in the society,” the Chairman of Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Archbishop Philip Anyolo said Wednesday in reference to the global challenge of human trafficking.
“We shall reflect on our roles, we as a Church as well as governments and security agencies in the fight against human trafficking,” Archbishop Anyolo added at the beginning of the second African regional conference on human trafficking that brought together over one hundred participants from about 10 African countries.
In his opening remarks, the Kenyan Prelate emphasized the need for the Church, the government and security agencies to consolidate their efforts in combatting human trafficking.
“Issues of labour, cargo and drivers of human trafficking can be addressed if we aim and focus on creating effective partnerships and collaborations that purpose to cut the umbilical code of modern-day human trafficking and slavery,” Archbishop Anyolo said.
The conference, a follow up of the first one held last year (2018) in the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja, has been spearheaded by the Santa Marta Group, an international alliance of leaders in law enforcement and Church from around the world working together with civil society to counter human trafficking.
In his good will message to the participants in the two-day Nairobi conference, the president of the Santa Marta Group, Vincent Cardinal Nichols acknowledged the value of multi-agency working in addressing the menace of trading human beings and wrote, “We are so much stronger when we stand together.”
A June 2019 US report on human trafficking describes it as “one of the most heinous crimes on Earth … robbing a staggering 24.9 million people of their freedom and basic human dignity.”
Well Over 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders annually.
In Africa, human trafficking is ranked among “the most prevailing transnational crime issues.”
Convened under the theme “sensitizing local communities on human trafficking in Africa,” the Nairobi conference, which concluded Thursday, October 3 sought to develop “strategies for pastoral care of victims and the nurturing of partnership with state institutions in Africa” in the fight against human trafficking.
Highlighting the efforts, which the Kenyan government has undertaken in creating awareness about human trafficking, The children’s officer from the ministry of labour and social protection, Mercy Karanja told ACI Africa, “July is dedicated for awareness creation countrywide through social media, local TV and radio stations.”
“The government conducted public awareness campaigns at community levels, sensitizing the local community leaders on human trafficking,” Ms. Karanja disclosed and added, the government has provision for the necessary support such as shelter, food, counseling, reintegration & economic empowerment among others either directly or through referrals.”
On the contribution of the Catholic Church in Kenya, the deputy general secretary of KCCB Fr. Lucas Ongesa told ACI Africa, “The Church has established institutions of rescue protection and prevention of human trafficking like, rescue homes and it (the Church) has also created good network to mitigate this reality of human trafficking.”
In an interview with ACI Africa from the sidelines of the Nairobi Conference, KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Anyolo challenged African governments “to increase job opportunities for young people after education, for this is a major cause of human trafficking.”
“There is need to balance education and job opportunities. This is why they (young people) go out in search of greener pasture and others are cheated and trapped,” Archbishop Anyolo emphasized.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa