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Presentation at UN Conference by Religious against Trafficking

A presentation by Sister Imelda Poole, IBVM, president of RENATE (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation) at a Vatican Sponsored Conference at the United Nations, 7 April 2016.

At the invitation of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, Sister Imelda Poole, IBVM, President of RENATE Network, was amongst a distinguished panel of speakers, at the Vatican-sponsored Conference entitled, Ending Human Trafficking by 2030: The Role of Global Partnerships in Eradicating Modern Slavery. The Conference, co-organised by the Santa Marta Group - named after Pope Francis' Vatican residence and founded by Francis in 2014 - aims to strengthen and coordinate the global response to combatting human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery and to galvanise the coordination necessary to implement Targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Imelda outlined the extent of the Network of RENATE comprised of Woman Religious with their Co-workers, working across 24 European countries, seeking to end the slavery of human trafficking.

She said: "We work across borders globally, because it is right across the world that women, men, boys and girls are being trafficked within and across porous borders. We have networks of Religious in every Continent in the world. All of us come together under Talitha Kum in Rome. This is important to us because together we know we are strong, together we can create actions for good. Our strength comes from co-operation and collaboration. Our vision and our passion come from love, justice, freedom and truth.''

Presenting a photograph taken in 1863, when the world celebrated the abolition of slavery, Imelda reminded the conference of the realisation of the horror of slavery then and yet "in our 21st century", she said, "we have the highest, most clandestine, criminal, lucrative, multi-billion dollar industry of trade in human beings." Quoting Pope Francis, Imelda reminded the conference of his image of slavery and human trafficking as "...living with that wound in the side of humanity.''

Imelda showed a short video, Called to give a Voice to the Voiceless, illustrating the various initiatives and actions of the Women Religious and their Co-workers in the 24 European countries that form the Network of RENATE. These initiatives show members caring for victims in shelters, raising awareness of the issue with many different groups, doing prevention work, training, rehabilitation, advocacy and campaigning. The video highlighted the positive outcomes of consistent support and community engagement for victims, like the Bagel café in Albania, run by survivors of Trafficking, supported by Mary Ward Loreto and Albania Hope project.

Other success stories include the growth of employment opportunities, such as the craft industries in both rural and urban areas, set up for independence and empowerment of victims. She said: "We 'walk the walk' on the streets with those who are suffering from the abuse of traffickers. We have shelters in all our countries where we are working for the rehabilitation of

victims. We work in prevention, on the peripheries, in the villages, in the countryside, where poverty is great."

Imelda called for international co-operation and collaboration to combat human trafficking in three specific areas which she considers require urgent attention:

1. The issue of demand; adopting legislation that criminalises perpetuators and does not treat victims as criminals.

2. To examine and address the systems of corruption that give rise to human trafficking;

3. Address the problem of Internet trafficking and criminal behaviour that is carried out on the net.

Other distinguished speakers included: Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster; Mr. Kevin Hyland, OBE., UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner; the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo; the UN Goodwill Ambassador against Human Trafficking Ms. Mira Sorvino; and survivor of trafficking Mrs. Donna Hubbard, Airline Ambassadors Human Trafficking Awareness Programme; among others.

Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

Religious in Europe Networking against Trafficking and Exploitation.



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