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Human trafficking: Card. Bo (Myanmar), the plight of 2.5 million Rohingyas. Mgr. Akubeze (Nigeria), work on education and employment

“To share good practice in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery” – this is the main objective of the fifth meeting of the Santa Marta Group which ended today at the Vatican. Positive actions to take, besides providing assistance to the victims, include improving relations with the media, and ensuring “transparency” on “work done and long term strategy” so as to “raise awareness of human trafficking”, the final statement issued after today’s audience with Pope Francis and the press conference of Card. Vincent Nichols, President of the Group, reads. In the fifth annual meeting of the Group, discussion also touched on contributions from international agencies, “introducing the role of the private sector”. Education and work: these are, according to Mgr. Augustine Akubeze, Bishop of Benin City, the two areas in which countries such as Nigeria, and other African countries in general, need to “show their commitment” and “take action to combat human trafficking”. Speaking to the press, the prelate warned that young people “risk being confused by misleading and dangerous paths”: hence the timelessness of the message the Nigerian Bishops have recently addressed to them. According to Mgr. Akubeze, there is good cooperation in Nigeria with the police and the government, but “greater awareness” is needed to “prosecute those responsible for these crimes”. Card. Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, who was asked about the situation in Myanmar – the country the Pope recently visited -, once again drew the attention of the media to the plight of the 2,500,000 Rohingyas whose rights are still not recognized and cited the ordeal of some 1,000 fishing boats lost at sea and the exploitation of the prostitution in China. As for the work carried out in recent days, Card. Bo said it was “very constructive, especially because we could exchange experiences from the five continents; it enhanced our mutual trust and made us more determined to do everything in our power to put an end to what the Pope has called a shame and a scandal”.

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