Prelate warns against human trafficking after Haiyan

Reports emerge of women recruited from disaster areas

Prelate warns against human trafficking after Haiyan

Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan wait to board a plane to Manila at Tacloban City airport (photo by Roy Lagarde) reporter, Manila, Philippines

December 10, 2013

A month after Typhoon Haiyan left 1.9 million people homeless and more than 5,900 dead in the Philippines, survivors are facing a new potential disaster: human trafficking.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, convenor of the Philippines’ Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking, warned today that the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan and the resulting "chaotic environment" make potential victims "extremely vulnerable”.

Raymond Jonathan Lledo, head of the government's National Inter-Agency Task Force Against Trafficking, said that his office has received reports that foreigners are already starting to recruit women from disaster areas.

The Philippines has been identified as a source country for trafficking, with numerous Filipinos going overseas for job opportunities only to be trapped in a nightmare of sex trafficking and forced labor.

The 2013 US Trafficking in Persons Report noted that human trafficking within the country also "remains a significant problem," as people are frequently trafficked from rural areas to urban centers.

"Now, more than ever, Filipinos need to rise up and protect those who would be exploited within their borders," Pabillo told reporters in a press briefing today.

Various church groups are scheduled to hold a "prayer rally" in Manila on Thursday to raise awareness about human trafficking.

"If they are becoming bold in committing this modern-day slavery, we have to be much bolder in fighting it," said a joint statement issued by Catholic and Protestant Churches in the Philippines.

"As a Church, we cannot just sit idly by while cases of human trafficking are piling up year after year," the statement said.