04/12/2019, 14.01
LEBANON - VATICAN
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Caritas Lebanon against human trafficking: help and support to rebuild the future

The president Fr. Paul Karam was one of 200 delegates of the international conference on trafficking, promoted by the Dicastery for integral human development. Lebanon one of the main destinations in the Middle East. The Catholic NGO has opened six centers, which work in collaboration with the government and embassies. The schooling of children to promote integration.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - A “front line” commitment for victims of human trafficking, especially "women and children from Asia and Africa", which guarantees "material aid such as food and housing, psychological support and training" for rebuild an identity, Fr. Paul Karam, president of Caritas Lebanon, tells AsiaNews.

For over seven years he has been active in welcoming Syrian families fleeing war and supporting, together with operators and volunteers of the Catholic NGO, the victims of human trafficking. The priest returned to the Land of the Cedars last night, after having participated in the international conference on trafficking that was held in recent days in the Vatican. "The event is fundamental to share experiences and to work in groups of different pastoral orientation".

From 8 to 11 April the migrants and refugees section of the Dicastery for integral human development organized an international conference on trafficking in persons, which ended with a private audience with Pope Francis.

The event was attended by delegates from all over the world, including bishops, priests, men and women religious, project coordinators and pastoral agents, along with representatives of Catholic NGOs and trafficking experts. Addressing the over 200 participants, the pontiff condemned what he calls the "commodification of the human being"  as a terrible "crime against humanity", warning that "much remains to be done" against a "profound plague".

Lebanon is a major destination for human trafficking, especially of women. Victims are often used for domestic labor in conditions of slavery or end up in the hands of prostitution rings. These include women from Eastern European nations and neighboring Syria.

Traffic also involves minors, also used in the sex market or for forced labor in the sectors of metallurgy, construction or agriculture. There are also several cases of women from Sri Lanka, the Philippines or Ethiopia who enter Lebanon with a regular permit, but who end up victims of forced labor with the seizure of their passport, travel restrictions, threats, physical and sexual violence. In this context, the government has not taken the necessary steps to meet the minimum standards of the fight against a phenomenon that involves hundreds of people every year.

Fr. Paul explains "In LebanonCaritas has launched six centers dedicated to victims of trafficking in persons, victims of sexual abuse or slavery. They are places present in different parts of the country, but we prefer to keep their whereabouts confidential for reasons of safety and to protect the people themselves ”.

Inside these centres, "psychological and material" help and support are offered, with the aim of "providing a deadly and ethical cultural and professional background" and "encouraging return to the countries of origin, in conditions of full security: these are the ones that we call success stories ".

 

He continues "It is important that people can regain full confidence and autonomy". Within the next two months, the six centers already active will be joined by a new center dedicated to the recovery of "street children, exploited by the Mafia for child labor or victims of sexual abuse".

Psychologists and doctors, experts and educators operate in the structures as well as a team of lawyers, because “we follow the stories also from a procedural point of view. In these years - he underlines - we have won several cases, targeted the perpetrators of this violence and guaranteed compensation ".

The Caritas Lebanon president underlines that at the moment the centers "welcome about 250 people", and "operate in full agreement with the Lebanese security apparatus and the embassies of the nations of origin of the victims, from Africa to Asia, from Iraq to Syria, passing through the Philippines ”.

Then there are children "born of women who came to us pregnant, to whom we guaranteed welcome and shelter". He concludes that they have started a schooling project for these young children which, to date, "allows at least 145 primary school children to be able to study and learn, starting from the study of the Arabic language which is the basis, the first step towards integration".

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