Pope Francis has appealed for concerted action against human trafficking ahead of the Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking, which takes place tomorrow 8 February.
‘I invite everyone, citizens and institutions, to join forces to prevent the slave trade and to guarantee protection and assistance for the victims’ he said during the weekly General Audience in the Vatican.
Pope Francis reminded those present that 8 February is the Feast day of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese nun, who as a child had the traumatic experience of being a victim of human trafficking. The Holy Father said this is an occasion to join in prayer and action against the trade of human beings.
Remarking on the 2018 theme of the Day of Prayer and Awareness – ‘Migration without trafficking; Say yes to Freedom and No to slavery’ – Pope Francis noted that many migrants are forced to choose illegal channels of migration where they are submitted to ‘abuse of every kind, exploitation and slavery.’
Pope Francis noted that criminal organizations that engage in the trafficking of persons make use of migratory routes to hide their victims among the migrants and refugees.
Pope Francis also asked for prayers so that ‘the Lord may convert the hearts of traffickers and give hope to those who suffer because of this shameful scourge so they may regain their freedom.’
Religious institutes and faith-based organizations across the world organize events and prayer services on her feast day to mark the occasion and raise awareness against human trafficking.