Holy See: Joint efforts needed in fight against human trafficking
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Speaking on Thursday during a plenary session of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk highlighted the Holy See’s concern about the “heinous crime” of trafficking in persons, particularly in situations of conflict and humanitarian crises.
Recalling Pope Francis’ words, he said that trafficking “represents an unjustifiable violation of the freedom and dignity of its victims, of those constitutive dimensions of the human being as willed and created by God.”
Therefore, “all efforts must be undertaken to fight against it and to help victims reclaim and protect their dignity,” urged the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE.
Women and girls are most vulnerable
Monsignor Urbańczyk noted that although both men and women may be subjected to trafficking, women and girls are among the most vulnerable.
He said that women continue to be subjected to human trafficking through domestic or sexual exploitation, indicating that “the organization of societies worldwide is still far from reflecting clearly the fact that women possess the same dignity and identical rights as men.”
The war in Ukraine
Illustrating further on the crime of trafficking, the Permanent Representative observed that in situations of conflict and humanitarian crises, “criminals subjugate, enslave and traffic people, taking advantage of the unstable socio-political environment.”
He pointed at the example of the ongoing war in Ukraine, noting that the tragic phenomenon is playing out as one of the many devastating consequences of this “war of aggression.”
Already, Cardinal Michael Czerny, while visiting Ukrainian refugees as the Pope’s special envoy, acknowledged that “trafficking is a real problem – a tragedy within a tragedy that feeds on humanitarian crises.” He also noted that in these moments of conflict and confusion, “the perverse work of human traffickers and people seeking to enslave those so vulnerable by falsely offering them help and then trapping them is a new problem.”
Encouraging signs of welcome
In light of the vast displacement of persons caused by the war in Ukraine – the largest movement of refugees in Europe since the Second World War - Monsignor Urbanczyk reiterated Pope Francis’ invitation to all to recognize that, despite all the suffering, “there are also encouraging signs, such as the open doors of all those families and communities that are welcoming migrants and refugees throughout Europe.”
The Pope also prayed that “these numerous acts of charity become a blessing for our societies, at times debased by selfishness and individualism, and help to make them welcoming to all.”