Updated: April 21, 2013 11:09 PM GMT
The leaders of 24 religious congregations in Southeast Asia have announced a more focused effort to combat human trafficking across the region, following a meeting in Singapore that ended last week.
The 15th Southeast Asia Major Superiors Congress (SEAMS), which included 33 delegates from nine Asian countries, meets every three years to encourage greater collaboration among Religious in the region on social issues.
“Through the Congress, participants emerged with a strong conviction that we cannot continue to address human trafficking in our present piecemeal way. There is an urgent need for greater networking and collaboration,” the SEAMS congress said in a press statement issued on Monday.
“The decision to focus on human trafficking in this year’s Congress was unanimous as it has become a growing concern of the Church’s social mission,” said Fr Colin Tan SJ, regional superior of the Jesuit region of Malaysia-Singapore, who also served as chairman for this year’s Congress.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world, according to regional and international rights organizations, affecting an estimated 27 million men, women and children.
In its second global estimate of forced labor released in June last year, the International Labour Organization said there are 20.9 million victims of modern-day slavery at any given time, with the Asia-Pacific region accounting for the largest number at about 11.7 million.