PRETORIA, 5 April 2007 (UNODC) - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime will partner with the Anglican Church in South Africa in organising the first-ever international, interfaith forum to fight human trafficking.
UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa agreed with the Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane, on Thursday that the event would take place in Cape Town in October. The forum will be a key component of UNODC's recently launched Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
"Faith communities have a critical role to play in fighting human trafficking, which is a truly global problem," Mr Costa said. "They can help raise awareness of a problem that is still widely misunderstood, put pressure on governments to live up to their commitments and help ensure that victims get the support they deserve."
"South Africa's church leaders have long enjoyed great moral authority throughout the world. I am confident that the support of the Archbishop and his colleagues will help make the Cape Town forum a milestone event in tackling this modern form of slavery."
Mr Costa thanked the Premier of Western Cape province, Ebrahim Rasool, for his support for the event and offer of practical assistance.
Participants in the two-day forum - both senior religious leaders and staff of faith-based NGOs - will explore the role of faith communities in combating trafficking in persons, as well as best practices in prevention, awareness-raising and assistance to victims.
"Victims of trafficking - whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish or of no religion - share a common humanity. The suffering they face is devastating and they are too often stigmatised as criminals rather than recognised as victims," Mr Costa said. "The faith communities can help to ensure that their voices are heard."
Trafficking in persons, whether for sexual exploitation or forced labour, affects virtually every country in the world.
UNODC's new Global Initiative focuses on three main themes: vulnerability to and root causes of human trafficking; the impact and consequences of trafficking and action required to respond to the problem.