It is the recruitment, transportation, transferring and harbouring of persons by use of threat or force or abuse of power by one person who has got control over another one. Therefore, it is the buying and selling of human beings, for different wrong reasons.

Mostly it is for prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, pornography, for strip dancing in the clubs, slave labour, domestic workers, farm workers and construction industries, abducted for organ harvesting, solders and others are sold as minor workers. Most of the victims are young people girls, women and boys. This is a reality in our communities, it affects the most vulnerable people in the society. This a scandalous industry. It is known as the modern-day slavery. People are seen as products to be used, ending in the violation of the human rights. It is a total disregard for the dignity of the human person.

The bible is very clear that we are all created in the image of God, and this was out of his love. We are able to see that love in the human person, Gen 1:26. (Let us make a man in our image, after our likeness). This human trafficking abuse affects the dignity of each person by exposing one human being to humiliation, degrading and manipulation. It is an evil act to reduce a human person to a slave. The Vatican II spoke about this when it teaches that we should be compassionate and loving not to subject any human person to a forced labour. The Vatican II teaches not to turn human beings in a mere tool animal for profit. “The human person is called to be a worker; work is one of the characteristics which distinguish human beings from the rest of creatures. When Joseph was sold by his brothers, (Gen 37:12-36), it is one of those human weakness. This is a story of violence and abuse.
Human trafficking is an evil act, it’s a crime and sinful, Pope Francis has called this, “an open wound on the body of the society, it’s a scourge upon the body of Christ”. This is a shameful act and dark moments in our lives and Churches. People are abused and exploited emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially, and mentally.
Human beings have got a right to move to a better place but not to be trafficked, we need to look at this topic holistically to walk together to address this phenome.

The questions arise what can the Church do over these phenomena? Let my people go free (Is 58:6-.7) This text offers us some of the responses that we can do in our pastoral plan action. For example, Isaiah says that set free the oppressed, share bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, cloth the naked. We are very grateful to Pope Francis who has taken this subject at heart. He calls on the young people not to fall into the hands of traffickers.
I do call upon our Dioceses and Caritas offices and other church departments of social action like Justice and Peace to offer awareness programmes to our youth. This can take the form of education programmes to all the people in our Churches especially in those countries who are most vulnerable or the sending countries. The Church can use its pastoral plan to protect its youth especially the girls and the women. The Church has for a long time been a shelter for those who have been trafficked. The open-door policy should be maintained. The call for the networking with other NPO and government departments should be encouraged. For example, those who are living near the national borders should work with the security forces to stop traffickers before they cross into another country. Awareness should also happen into the families, schools, clubs and in the labour industry to stop the recruitment.
The Church must use its Small Christian Communities (SCCs) to engage with the faithful to raise awareness by using our structures the PPC, PFC to educate the community. Teaching about the evil of corruption. We are also able to put some resources towards our offices which deal with human traffickers. The Church has to use a lot of networks for example the legal fraternity to offer help in the court processes. There is a need to offer awareness to the business people to engage them to be able to reflect on the ethical reflection. We have got a role to play by providing them with the values in business. Our Churches and the communities should not buy products made by those industries that use slave labour and those goods that are cheap need to be addressed. We need a fair-trade model economy. We are able to preach for a good working condition and educate people for a fair salary. We in the Church should be the first people to offer a good decent salaries and payments and offering them sound jobs.
We are called to improve people’s lives, by walking with them in a synodal way. The Church can offer information to the young people before departure from their countries of origin. We call upon the families to become better parents by protecting their children against the traffickers. The use of the Catholic media, to talk the best practices. The different Bishops conferences have been working together in this human crisis, for example we in the IMBISA. Even in each Dioceses and parishes there is a need to network. We can train social workers, lawyers, medical practitioners to try to stop the human traffickers.
We can call upon the different people to offer new and better opportunities, by offering spiritual healing in the power of faith. The Church can assist with the reintegration programmes.
In the book of Gen 4: 9, we see the drama of the two brothers Cain kills his brother Abel. Then we hear the Cry of God who asked, “Cain where is your brother? We cannot afford to look the other way. We would not be complicity in the human trafficking industry. The Church has got a role to offer comfort, liberate and pray to St Josephine Bakhita, who is the Saint that is venerated for the special relevance to slavery and those who are oppressed and trafficked.
We should offer the education and stop the deception that human trafficking is a cool business and it looks good, we need to stop and know those tricks. Every 8th Feb, which is the feast day for St Bakhita, we stand and say No to human trafficking by taking the model of Bakhita. This reality of human trafficking has to be known in our Church sodalities, Caritas offices and talk about it. We may offer the space for the people to talk about their stories. The Church can stand and listen to their stories.

We are called to go out and search for those who have been trafficked, Ezekiel 34:6-11-16. We need to reach out like the good Shepheard to join the fight against human trafficking campaigns. We need to bring to safety the vulnerable and the powerless, we need to open our eyes and see what is going on in our areas.
The Church has got booklets with a lot of information, to help the local Churches to have information. We need to work with other Churches in the training of our Church personnel and staff members. Training on the cross-border projects, so that we may have a joint project and hands on. The Church has produced videos to help people tell their stories.
The Church has been offering life and practical skills in its mission these have to be continued more and more trainings.
The Catholic Church members should be the number one to denounce human trafficking in its own house. If there are those who have been involved they should have a conversion of heart to cut off from the evil act and the demand.

There are several minor and major causes. People have lost hope in their governments and in the future. Young people are desperate for jobs, and they cannot see a better life around them. For them to improve their human conditions they fall victims of human traffickers, due to lack of basic needs. There are others who live on the misfortunes of others, by exploiting them.
The poverty in our areas and countries causes people to
want to escape from it. We need to talk about the political envelopment in our African countries. Our families are broken, so the children end up being victims to the perpetrators and the consumers. There are also the issues of climate changes, falls dreams from the youth. Young people are promised luxury accommodations and payments.
There is a lot of wide spread ignorance about human trafficking among young people. They are given false promises, they are looking for those riches and they went to be part of them. At times young people are being rejected by their families or communities, due to poverty or and they get on the move not knowing what is laying ahead of their trips. Having no support system from the communities, these exposes them to the traffickers. False friends who introduce them to the wrong people to tell them good stories. Those stories sound very irresistible and very attractive to them. There is a lot of increased individualism and egocentricity attitudes among the modern families. Our African values (Ubuntu) are gone and forgotten. Young people do not want to live in a simple life style. The different governments do not have that passion to safe-guide their young ones.

There is a lot of abuses, rape fraud bribery and corruption that people who are trafficked meet and face. A number of young people are sold as wives, drugged, some end up in debt and bondages. If you are no longer of use, they can dispose you off. A lot of oppression does happen and take place to those victims. Those who have been trafficked at times end up in faraway countries, without communicating to their families or the outside world. They live in fear most of the time, due to the reason that some of them have no passports or legal documents. They keep in silence because they fear to be deported or arrested. They are living a lonely life. They are forced to work long hours and in very dangerous working conditions. These people are isolated, from their families. The traffickers take these people for cheap-law price products, to be used and disposable off after or discarded after use. There are a lot of use of violence, brutality, captivity and people end up physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually abused.

This is a very hidden industry; its shameful people do not want to talk about it. The people who take part in it are invisible. Those who are being trafficked are helpless, they cannot easily escape or move out once they find the truth. They have no ability to free themselves. A lot of police and health professions are not trained to identify and deal with victims of human trafficking. Most of these people are exploited and not given a just wage for their work. Let us pray the prayer of Africa, so that God may bless its people, her children, to be able to put an end to this war. May the Lord wipe out hatred and grant all of us love and peace.
We need to give thanks to the media, NGO and all the pastoral workers, of the IMBISA area.