The problem of human trafficking and forced labor is worldwide. Combating them is one of the thematic programs of Caritas Asia. Being in the Asia Pacific Region, where incidence of human trafficking is rampant, Caritas Asia has always maintained a palpable effort to empower the Caritas Member Organizations (MOs) in the region, to develop, share and sharpen their anti-human trafficking programs.
For the past several years now, Caritas Asia has been developing the capacities of the program officers and other staff members of the Caritas MOs, to further enable them to be effective responders to trafficking issues. Through the years, various regional activities, such as trainings, forums, workshops, and exposure visits, have been among Caritas Asia’s strongest strategies to boost capacities and competencies of the MOs in the field of combating human trafficking.
The various capacity building initiatives organized by Caritas Asia under its AT Program have sharpened the ability of the Caritas MOs in Asia to counter human trafficking in a more sustainable manner. Among others, the learning gained by the MOs from the regional trainings, workshops, or forums are: increased knowledge and skills; better and more professional engagements on responding to trafficking victims; more robust coordination and cooperation; and wider recognition of the Caritas family in the realm of fighting human trafficking.
In January 2016, Caritas Asia reconvened the GMS Anti-Trafficking Task Force and organized a follow-up meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. It was in this meeting that the Task Force was able to collectively discuss about the large-scale movement of Rohingya asylum seekers and migrants from Western Myanmar. The Task Force actually came up with a unified statement calling for the protection of the minority ethnic group and the prevention of further smuggling of Rohingya migrants to the neighboring countries.
Since its establishment in 2014, the Task Force has been creating an environment for the GMS neighboring Caritas MOs of Cambodia, Macau, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam for cooperative and mutually supportive projects against trafficking in persons.
In the field of networking and advocacy, Caritas Asia continues to take part in the regional partners’ meetings of the United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Person (UN-ACT), which is a regional project of the UN Development Program (UNDP) launched in 2014 to counter human trafficking in the GMS and beyond. The meetings have provided opportunities for Caritas Asia to share with or learn from other regional organizations experiences and expertise on advocacy, research and evaluation.
In the new Regional Strategic Plan 2017-2020 of Caritas Asia, Safe Migration and Anti-Human Trafficking remains to be one of the 7 strategic priorities of the Caritas confederation in Asia. This means that Caritas Asia will continue to work in the field of combating trafficking in persons and ensuring safe migration in the next four years through:
- Institutionalize cross border coordination on anti-trafficking and migration
- Establish exchange platforms to address rural to urban migration issues