Enabling safe migration in South Asia and the Middle East

First published on: 31st May 2022

Human trafficking is a global issue. People are illegally transported across national borders, forced into unpaid labour and sexually exploited. Successfully responding to the problem of human trafficking requires churches to work in collaboration across borders.

Primates and bishops from the Church of North India (CNI), the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East (JME), the Church of South India (CSI) and the Church of Bangladesh (COB) met online on 14 May to discuss how best to enable safe migration and prevent human trafficking in their regions.  

The Diocese of Durgapur in North India has run an Anti-Human Trafficking programme since 2011, particularly focusing on raising awareness of human trafficking, building support groups for those vulnerable to exploitation and bridging the information gap between NGOs, local government and villagers. Likewise, the Province of Jerusalem works with local organisations, including churches from other denominations, to provide basic supplies and places of refuge to vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers. The Church of South India has responded to increased migration and trafficking from Sri Lanka and Myanmar by running workshops for migrants and refugees. These workshops involve teaching practical skills like tailoring, screen printing and computing so that new arrivals in the country have employable skills. The Church of Bangladesh is also aware of the issues of human trafficking and enabling safe migration. The COB is keen to develop a stronger intervention in tackling this issue through greater co-operation with the Church of North India. 

At this online gathering, these churches engaged in conversations about responding to human trafficking, learning from each other and strengthening relationships between provinces. This is particularly important as the Church of North India and the Church of Bangladesh share borders, whilst the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East is the recipient of a large number of migrants from Asia and Africa. The JME is already working with the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, the Church of Pakistan and the Church in the Philippines to identify and prevent human trafficking. This new conversation with North India, South India and Bangladesh will build on the provincial relationships already fostered by USPG’s partners across the Anglican Communion.

Rev’d Davidson Solanki, USPG’s Regional Manager for Asia and the Middle East, adds ‘It is a privilege for USPG to journey with these provinces as they come together to challenge the evil of human trafficking. We are committed to facilitating engagement between provinces and accompanying these churches as they provide a Christian response to human trafficking and migration.’

To read more about the context of human trafficking in these regions, check out our webinar on the topic from 2020.