The photo shows the Bakhita center for female trafficking victims, inaugurated in March in the Nigerian city of Lagos | CREDIT: Ordine di Malta
The photo shows the Bakhita center for female trafficking victims, inaugurated in March in the Nigerian city of Lagos | CREDIT: Ordine di Malta

The phenomenon of human trafficking is ever more of concern and there has been a rise in criminal gangs focusing on this type of illegal activity, said the Order of Malta ahead of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2019 on July 30.

As part of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2019, which falls on July 30, the Sovereign Order of Malta has put the spotlight on the growth of the phenomenon of trafficking across the world. It noted that criminal gangs involved in human trafficking are on the rise. 

More actions against the phenomenon 

In a statement, the Order of Malta reported that the International Labor Organization (ILO) said that 21 million people are now victims of forced labor, including sexual exploitation. According to a report on human trafficking by the Vienna-headquartered United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC), almost a third of the victims are under age 18 and over 70 percent are women and children. 

''In recent years, the Order of Malta has increased its efforts to fight this terrible scourge. Its two ambassadors 'at large' are developing projects for protecting trafficking victims, reinforcing partnerships with local organizations long dedicated to combating human trafficking and at the same time heightening the awareness of the international community,'' it said in a statement. 

"The problem is very disturbing. The criminal gangs involved in this odious business are increasing,'' it added. ''Children are 'the goods' that are worth the most on the market. Many families are prepared to pay exorbitant sums to guarantee a better future for their children, putting them in the hands of unscrupulous traffickers to remove them from wars and poverty,” said the Order of Malta’s Grand Hospitaller Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, for over five years responsible for the Order’s social and healthcare initiatives in 120 countries. 

"At the same time,” the Grand Hospitaller added, “it is the trafficking gangs who, taking advantage of poverty and hardship, remove the children from their families in exchange for money.'' 

Paris conference in October on trafficking 

The Order of Malta underscored that in the month of March, in the Nigerian city of Lagos, the Bakhita center for female victims of trafficking was inaugurated. The organization called it ''a first step that, in the Order of Malta’s intentions, will lead to a more incisive present in the country. Nigeria has the highest percentage of human trafficking since it is a place of departure, of transit and of destination. The center, besides offering accommodation and psychological support for the victims, organizes courses for aiding the reinsertion of these women in society because, besides being exploited, these people are often rejected by their families and community.'' 

It went on to note that at the ''diplomatic level, the Order of Malta will organize a conference in Paris on October 8 with the purpose of reinforcing cooperation with the local organizations engaged in combating trafficking and humanitarian agencies. 

The purpose of the conference, which will offer poignant testimonies of female victims of exploitation, is also that of improving support and protection policies for victims in Europe and highlighting intergovernmental agreements between France and Nigeria on the subject of trafficking to identify the best practices.''

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