Sustain fight against modern-day slavery - Challenging Heights urges world
The President of Challenging Heights, James Kofi Annan, has urged world leaders, particularly religious heads, to sustain the fight against modern-day slavery and other forms of human cruelty even as the world faces harsh economic and political challenges.
For that, he said, the Anglican Church, which was one of the oldest churches in the world, had a responsibility to demonstrate genuine empathy for those who face victimisation.
Mr Annan was speaking to journalists upon arrival from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where he addressed participants at the triennial International Consultation of the United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG).
The consultation brought together about 50 senior church leaders from across the world, including about 15 Archbishops of the Anglican Church, to explore one of the most pressing challenges of our times – human trafficking.
This year, the USPG International Consultation focused on the theme, “Set my people free: The call of the church against human trafficking”.
He said the Anglican Church, one of the oldest churches in the world, had a responsibility to demonstrate genuine empathy for those who faced victimisation.
According to him, recent data from international agencies such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Walk Free Foundation, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), estimated that the number of people found in slavery worldwide had increased from 40.3 million to 49.6 million within just five years.
That, he said, was attributed to the worsening global socio-economic situation largely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A quarter of all 49.6 million victims of modern slavery are children, over 22 million people are in forced marriages and two out of five of those in forced marriages are children, while over 17.3 million are in forced labour exploitation in the private economy,” he explained.
Mr Annan further explained that more than 6.3 million of the 49.6 million people trapped in slavery were in commercial sexual exploitation and nearly four million were in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
Despite the dire statistics, Mr Annan commended the Anglican Church for its antislavery efforts through the Anglican Alliance.
He said as a result, more than 70 per cent of countries in the world had passed human trafficking laws and banned slavery in all its forms.
“This provides the opportunity for churches and civil society groups to collaborate in their effort at ending slavery once again in our lifetime,” he added.
Mr Annan, however, called for more actions and measures to be put in place to ensure all people being victimised were liberated completely.