Buenos Aires (Agenzia Fides) - An appeal to "unite our voices and our prayers" for the victims of human trafficking, a crime aggravated by the pandemic, comes from the Bishops of Argentina on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Victims of Human Trafficking, to be held on February 8, the Feast of Saint Bakhita. The message of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CEMI) of the Argentine Bishops' Conference invites us to pray and fight "for a society without slaves or exclusions, in which the dignity and freedom of each are recognized and respected".
"The shameful and intolerable crime of human trafficking is seriously harming the lives of many people", the statement sent to Fides underlines. "The period of isolation for the pandemic has exacerbated this crime and made it more visible and unsustainable in the many faces of brothers and sisters that we see suffering every day. There are thousands of people - children, men and women of all ages - deprived of their freedom and forced to live in painful conditions of authentic slavery".
In this context, the bishops recall the plight of migrants who, for various social, political and economic reasons, are forced to live in illegality: "Many of them are the most vulnerable because, in order to earn a piece of bread, they accept to live and work in unacceptable conditions, falling into the hands of criminal and corrupt networks that trade with human beings".
The statement pays tribute to the "great silent work" that has long been done by religious orders and church and civil organizations together with many voluntary helpers, because "generous service for the victims and the poorest, help, rehabilitation, reintegration, promotion, accompaniment are the answers that the Gospel requires for the benefit of these excluded".
However, all this work, is not enough to put an end to human person exploitation. For this reason, more commitment is required at an institutional level: "the State must take care of the protection of life and eliminate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation of people, where there must be no room for corruption and impunity".
In conclusion, the Bishops recall that "this time of pandemic is the time to look with the eyes of Our Lady, a woman of hope" and invite us to pray to the Virgin "to teach us to be architects of solidarity, fraternity and social friendship, so that we may give generous and adequate answers and enthusiastically resume the path that leads us to building a society without slaves or excluded". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 5/2/2021)