GLOBAL: Salesian Missions highlights programs for victims of human trafficking on World Day against Trafficking in Persons
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and organizations around the globe in honoring World Day against Trafficking in Persons. In 2013, UN member states adopted a resolution that designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The day aims to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
The Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons was adopted in 2010 and urges governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat human trafficking in all its forms. The UN plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programs to boost development and strengthen security worldwide.
UNODC notes that every year millions of children, women and men fall into the hands of traffickers, lured by false promises and deceit. Human trafficking has become a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise affecting nearly every country in the world. Those who have been trafficked are coerced into sexual exploitation, forced labor, domestic servitude, forced begging or stealing.
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally: 81 percent of them are trapped in forced labor and 75 percent are women and girls.
This year, the theme of World Day against Trafficking in Persons is focused on “responding to the trafficking of children and young people.” The campaign highlights the fact that almost a third of trafficking victims are children.
Part of the statement of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons reads, “Trafficking in persons is a vile crime that feeds on inequalities, instability and conflict. Human traffickers profit from peoples’ hopes and despair. They prey on the vulnerable and rob them of their fundamental rights. Children and young people, migrants and refugees are especially susceptible. Women and girls are targeted again and again.”
To mark World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs around the globe that provide life-changing education and prevention and awareness programs. Salesian Missions, headquartered in New Rochelle, N.Y., is the U.S. development arm of the international Salesians of Don Bosco.
Don Bosco City, one of the oldest and largest programs for street children in Latin America, has been working with youth for 52 years and has saved more than 1,300 of them from a life of violence. It is estimated that close to 6,000 minors continue to be utilized as child soldiers with thousands more having reached their 18th birthday after years of combat. The long rehabilitation process focuses on participants learning three key things—how to trust, how to have hope for the future and how to build relationships with others. Psychologists and teachers work together with the young participants, giving them the tools for a better future, including providing basic education and more advanced skills training that will lead to stable employment.
Since its start in 1965, Don Bosco City has rescued more than 83,000 boys and girls. Through its program, Salesian missionaries offer a multi-pronged approach designed to address the broad social issues that contribute to the poverty and exploitation these youth face while training them in the skills necessary to break the cycle of violence and poverty. Currently, there are 900 youth between the ages of 8 and 12 living and receiving education at the program.
Salesian missionaries operate two centers in the urban area of Accra, the capital and largest city of Ghana. One is a home for children and older youth who have been victims of child trafficking. Currently, the Salesian home has 51 children ranging in age from 7 to 16 years. Some of the children are known as “wheelbarrow boys” because they come from extremely poor families with many children and work pushing and carrying diverse materials with carts and wheelbarrows. Other children come from the gold and diamond mines where they are utilized for their small size and ability to move about easily in the mines.
Children face a variety of hardships from being exploited as child laborers to being sold by their relatives, often to pay off a debt. In the Lake Volta region, it is estimated that there are approximately 21,000 children and teen laborers who have been prevented from attending school.
Salesian missionaries have also launched the Child Protection Center. Children come to the Child Protection Center via referrals from other nonprofits and from the police, usually following a complaint. The center offers shelter, counseling and education to help children make the transition out of trafficking and into long-term recovery. Often arriving at the center injured, with low self-esteem and little hope for the future, many become comfortable and settled into their new surroundings within a few weeks.
Academic classes are offered in the morning after which students are able to participate in group activities with their peers such as theater, music, dance, sports and games. Through the program, participants learn life skills, gain confidence and prepare for a happy, healthy future.
Salesian missionaries operate an “Action to combat irregular migration through support of local development in the Tambacounda Region” project in Tambacounda, Senegal, a town of 80,000 people. This is part of the broader “Stop Human Trafficking” campaign Salesian missionaries are operating in several African countries.
In Tambacounda, there are few opportunities and prospects, especially for young people who represent the large majority of the Senegalese population and serve as a primary source of support for families. Many youth leave the area in search of opportunity but can fall victim to exploitation and trafficking.
The project is part of an initiative by VIS and Don Bosco Missions in Turin, Italy to develop projects and launch awareness campaigns to both stop and educate about the dangers of migration related to human trafficking. With a focus on youth leaving countries in Africa in search of a better life in Europe, the campaign aims to prevent young migrants from becoming victims of crime and exploitation.
By providing analysis and research on the real reasons for migration, informing potential youth migrants about the risks of the journey and the real chances of success, along with giving individual guidance to those who want to leave, the campaign is working to deter young people from leaving countries where people are most at risk of human trafficking. These include Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Ghana. In collaboration with Salesian missionaries in Africa, the campaign will also raise funds to help with program development in targeted countries in Africa.
The campaign has already found success in Senegal after research there has shown that nearly 40 percent of youth leaving the country are leaving in search of better educational opportunities. With that knowledge, funds now are being raised through the campaign to provide scholarships to students in Senegal so they are able to access educational opportunities within their own country.
The Salesian Missions office in Madrid, Spain has been working with photojournalist Ana Palacios on a documentary about child trafficking called, “Child slaves, the back door.” The documentary notes there are some 152 million child slaves in the world, 72 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. It also notes that 50 percent of these 152 million children are between 5 and 11 years old.
As the documentary explains, human trafficking is considered modern slavery. The term “trafficking” is used in contexts including trafficking in human beings, forced labor, exploitation of minors, recruitment of child soldiers, child marriages, begging, organ trafficking, and sexual exploitation. The common denominator of all these crimes is that the forms of exploitation are varied and different.
Also known as #TheBackdoorProject, the documentary highlights the work of three Spanish non-governmental organizations and religious institutions, including Salesian Missions in Madrid. Salesian reception centers ensure the full transitional protection of exploited youth and carry out research to find their families or to offer alternatives for their social reintegration while also offering them education and social development services to meet their basic needs.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)