Nigerian Army ‘Rescues Nearly 300’ From Sambisa Forest

The Nigerian military says it has rescued 200 girls and 93 women from an area where the Islamist militant group Boko Haram is active.

To read the full story from BBC News: Click Here

The Vatican and COATNET team up against human trafficking

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples has teamed up with COATNET in the fight against human trafficking.
Council President, Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, and the Caritas Internationalis International Policy Director on Wednesday presented a “Christian Commitment Paper” on human trafficking which raises awareness in Episcopal Conferences and Church organizations and provides guidelines in the fight against the global slave trade that affects thousands of people.

Linking together many Christian groups which are fighting human trafficking, COATNET (Christian Organizations Against Trafficking in Human Beings) aims to raise public awareness about the phenomenon; fight the root causes of vulnerability; advocate for policies to reduce the vulnerability of people to trafficking; advocate for better anti-trafficking laws; cooperate with authorities, churches and civil society to challenge human trafficking; restore dignity to survivors.

The Paper comes at moment of increasing momentum within the Church – pioneered by Pope Francis – to challenge this form of slavery which the Pope has described as a crime against humanity.

Read the full article and listen to the interview at Vatican News: Click Here

House Panel is Told of Slavery in Thai Seafood Industry

Modern-day slavery persists around the world, including the abuse of fishermen in the Thai seafood industry whose catch can end up in U.S. markets.

To read the full story from The Valdosta Daily Times: Click Here

Catholic Group Met with U.S, State Department about Human Trafficking

On April 22nd, representatives of several Catholic groups, including the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and Mercy International, met with members of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The meeting was arranged by Ryan Murphy, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas justice team member.

Sisters of Mercy representatives were Sr. Jeanne Christensen, RSM, Ryan Murphy and Sr. Denise Boyle, OSF (Mercy International, via phone from Ireland). Sister Jean is also a core group member of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking In their brief comments, Sr. Jeanne and Ryan addressed the impact that violence and impoverishment have as causative factors in increased migration and incidents of human trafficking. Sr. Jeanne also discussed further victimization of migrants when they reach the United States, including detention, deportation and enslavement. She also discussed the U.S. military training at the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly the School of the Americas that causes much of the violence that victimizes our sisters and brothers in Latin America, most notably in Honduras.

Ryan also contributed to the discussion on U.S. trade policies as another root cause of violence, impoverishment and human trafficking. Noted in the discussion is the greed of corporation and the demand for cheap products by Americans who over-consume.

Sr. Denise brought the European perspective to the discussion, especially of poverty as a root cause of human trafficking. She noted that many development models fail to meet the needs of the poor and also that trade policies (not just U.S. but also many European countries) damage local economies, small business and agriculture and how that leads to destabilization, poverty and vulnerability to trafficking.

Others who presented perspectives on trafficking were Ashley Feasley, Esq. Policy Advisor to USCCB Migration and Refugee Services; Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF, Franciscan Action Network; and Elizabeth Nye, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach.

Several staff members from the U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons were present and attentive. They took notes, shared the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report (known as the TIP Report) responded to questions and requests made by presenters, The 2015 TIP report is near completion; but the Office’s members encouraged presenters to submit facts, data and/or stories about victims/survivors and other factors related to human trafficking for the 2016 TIP report.

The presenting group also included Father Shay Cullen, a Columban priest who ministers in the Philippines and Marlyn Capio Richter, trafficking survivor, who shared her story with office staff. Marlyn now works with PREDA, an organization founded by Father Cullen to provide a variety of programs and services to children, youth and women ensnared by human trafficking and prostitution near U.S. military bases.

One of the resources provided by the State Department is “How Many Slaves Work for You?” a survey that indicates which consumer items most of us use throughout the day, including food, electronics, coffee, sugar, tires and cotton, may be produced by slave labor: Ways to make a difference are provided.

Pope Francis: ‘Human Trafficking is A Plague on Humanity’

On April 18, Pope Francis met with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to discuss ways to combat human trafficking.

To read more and listen to Junno Arocho’s report on Vatican Radio: Click Here

Feds, Strip Clubs Fighting Human Trafficking

It was a standard hotel conference room scene — slices of fresh fruit and muffins laid out next to coffee urns and bottles of water chilling on ice as the attendees straggled in, industry friends hugging hello and quickly catching up on personal lives.

The Chicago west suburban conference, though, was hardly typical, and before it got started a hotel manager, standing near TV cameras there to cover the event, even asked an organizer to leave his hotel chain’s name out of remarks if possible.

To read the full article by Annie Sweeney of the Chicago Tribune: Click Here

One Year Later, #BringBackOurGirls

How can more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls simply disappear? And how can the Nigerian government and the rest of the world have allowed this to happen?

Exactly 365 days have passed since the girls were snatched from their boarding school dormitories in the dead of night in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria. They are still missing.

To read more from CNN: Click Here

Presentation Sisters Address Human Trafficking Issues in South Dakota

Raising awareness about human trafficking is just one of the ministries the Aberdeen-based Presentation Sisters are involved with, but it’s a topic that affects much of the work they do.

To read the full article from Elisa Sand of the Aberdeen News: Click Here

Why Does Modern Slavery Persist?

Tens of millions of people are currently enslaved around the world.

Modern slavery is a hidden crime, so it’s hard to get robust numbers, but the Global Slavery Index estimated in 2014 that perhaps 36 million people were in a situation of modern slavery.

Given that modern slavery in its various forms is prohibited under international law and in almost every country, why is it so widespread and pervasive?

To read the full article from the Huffington Post: Click Here

Number of Slaves Found on Indonesian Island at Almost 550

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The number of enslaved fishermen found on a remote Indonesian island has now reached nearly 550, after a fact-finding team returned for a single day to make sure no one had been left behind nearly a week after more than half of the men were removed in a dramatic rescue.

Many of the 210 identified Thursday were Burmese who wanted to leave, but there were a few holdouts — men who claimed they were owed years of back pay from their bosses, said Steve Hamilton, deputy chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration in Jakarta.

An in-depth investigation by The Associated Press published last month led to the discovery of massive rights abuses in the island village of Benjina and surrounding waters. The report traced slave-caught seafood from there to Thailand where it can then enter the supply chains of some of America’s biggest supermarket chains and retailers.

Many of the men interviewed said they were tricked or even kidnapped before being put on boats in Thailand and taken to Indonesia. They were forced to work almost non-stop under horrendous conditions, some brutally beaten by their Thai captains when they were sick or caught resting.

Last week, Indonesian authorities rescued around 330 migrants from Benjina, bringing them to the island of Tual, where they are now being sheltered by the government. Those found Thursday by a team, which included Myanmar officials, remain in Benjina.

It’s unclear who will pay for the mass repatriation. A former slave now in Tual said conditions were relatively good there. He said the men are getting medical care and enough to eat, but their living quarters are cramped and many do not have a change of clothes since they left quickly with only what they were wearing.

Meanwhile, Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters Thursday in her country’s capital, Naypyitaw, it was up to governments “to protect the rights of the citizens and to bring them back out of bondage.”

“That is the most obvious and very simple solution and unavoidable duty of any responsible government,” she told reporters.

While most fisherman found in Benjina were Burmese, there also were scores of Cambodians. The toll of 550 did not include men — many of whom also were enslaved — from poor parts of Thailand.

This story by Margie Mason and Robin McDowell of the Associated Press can also be found on MSN: Click Here