~ Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report
In addition to eliminating jobs, halting and slowing travel, and disrupting food pipelines, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem of human trafficking said experts gathered at an October 14 symposium entitled: “Combating Human Trafficking: Action in a Time of Crisis” sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and held at the International Union of Superiors General in Rome.
Declaring human trafficking “a stain on all of humanity,” said Calista Gingrich, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. She further said that human trafficking “is impervious to our current health crisis. It invades borders, destroys communities, and robs millions of their human dignity.”
In many communities, Gingrich said, “exploitation, abuse and modern slavery are on the rise. Countless victims, especially women and children, face growing threats. As the economic fallout of this pandemic continues, additional men, women and children are likely to become victims of forced labor and sex trafficking.”
She said that amidst the troubling signs, alliances focused on ending the exploitation of human can make a difference. She hailed the work of Catholic sisters, church-based humanitarian [groups] and law enforcement and said the shared concern about human trafficking is a “cornerstone” of the relationship between the U.S. embassy and the Holy See.”
In her remarks, Loreto Sister Patricia Murray, IUSG executive secretary noted that the United Nations has said the pandemic will likely cause an estimated 34.3 million people “to fall below the extreme poverty line” this year alone with over half that increase to happen in African countries. That has made people desperate for ways to support themselves and their families and has opened the opportunity for exploitation by traffickers.
Murray quoted Pope Francis’ declaration earlier this year that the financial gain from trafficking amounts to “blood money” and described trafficking as an “open wound on the body of contemporary society.”
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