NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Pope Francis has asked experts from two pontifical academies and a global Catholic medical association to look closely at human trafficking and explore ways to combat it, according to a report from the Catholic News Service.
Representatives from the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences and the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations will form an initial working group at the Vatican on November 2-3.
The group, comprised of physicians, scientists, lawyers, economists, researchers and scholars, will assess the scale of the problem, the causes of human trafficking and the steps that can be taken to prevent it and help victims, said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the academies.
In a speech on May 24 to members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, Pope Francis called human trafficking “a despicable activity, a disgrace for our societies, which describe themselves as civilised.”
He went on to say that refugees, displaced and stateless people are particularly vulnerable to “the plague of human trafficking, which increasingly involves children subjected to the worst forms of exploitation and even recruitment into armed conflicts.”
Sanchez said that scientists will look at starting a DNA registry of missing children and social scientists will examine trafficking as one of “the pressing economic, social and political problems associated with the process of globalisation.”
The International Labour Organization estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour and trafficking globally, 2 million of whom are trafficked annually for the sex trade.
“Some observers believe that within a few years human trafficking will surpass drug trafficking and weapons trafficking to become the most lucrative criminal activity in the world,” the bishop said.