Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking Focus of Zonal Conference
Salvationists from across the South Pacific and East Asia Zone, including New Zealand and Tonga, gathered in Thailand recently to discuss the latest developments in the international response to modern slavery and human trafficking.
Around 25 national contact people took part in the ‘Joining Hands for Transformation’ community of practice conference, held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, over five days in June.
Representing our territory were Captain Sammy Millar and Major Asena Sifa. Sammy is the Territorial Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking response contact person, while Asena is based at Regional Headquarters in Tonga, holding the positions of regional director of Women’s Ministries, regional secretary for Personnel and Sponsorship secretary.
In 2020, The Salvation Army launched the Fight for Freedom, its International Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Response Strategy, making its response to the issue a global priority.
Researchers estimate that close to 50 million people are enslaved across the world today, including an estimated 8000 people living in modern slavery within New Zealand.
People trapped in modern slavery situations of exploitation often cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception and/or abuse of power.
The conference included a range of speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities. Each delegate gave an update on the status of trafficking in their country, along with identifying gaps and how they are working to combat the global issue.
‘Hearing from survivors was transformational, their strength and wisdom inspiring,’ says Sammy. ‘The involvement of people who have survived modern slavery and human trafficking is absolutely essential in any response we formulate.’
Sammy says another highlight was being able to meet zonal colleagues in person. ‘It was something else to be in a room full of people so passionate and committed to see the end of modern slavery and human trafficking. We were able to share challenges, ideas, dreams and hopes and we came away with such strong sense of purpose and being family.’
Sammy says that later this year training opportunities will be available for people in The Salvation Army to learn more about modern slavery and human trafficking, including risk factors, identifying potential victims and survivors and how to support people who may have been trafficked or exploited.
If anyone suspects Modern Slavery and trafficking in people, they may contact Sammy directly and she can support with a referral pathway: [email protected]