Human Trafficking


Human Trafficking Awareness & Livelihood Campaign

On 8th / 9th February 2018, the 5th Santa Marta Group International Conference on Human Trafficking took place in Rome.  This group consists of international police chiefs and Catholc Bishops  

The scourge of this form modern slavery is described by Pope Francis as

'an open wound on the body of comtemporary society'.

For young people in particular, it is an easy trap to fall into.  Imagine you are well educated but cannot find a job because your country is struggling economically, whilst corruption and nepotism are rife. Someone offers you a job in another country and says you can pay back the cost of transport when you start work. It seems preferable to staying put with no hope of improvement in your circumstances.

However, once you are en route, your passport is taken 'to keep safe'.
At that point your identity is stolen, you are effecitvely silenced and your life enters a downward spiral. When you arrive in your new country you may find yourself in domestic service or other low--paid job. If you are a woman you may find yourself being sexually exploited, either to pay off your debt or to make money for the trafficker. It is a cruel cycle, but one that each of us, as parishioners, can help to put a stop to.

Southwark's Response

Bishop Pat Lynch and Fr Mark Odion represent the Archdiocese of Southwark at the Santa Marta Group of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales.

A high porportion of those trafficked are from Nigeria, and Edo State in particular, which happens to be home to a high proportion of Catholics.
Bishop Pat and Fr Odion are working alongisde the Archdiocese of Benin to enable a Human Awareness programme, whose aim is to prevent young people falling into this cycle.  They are also engaged with a Human Livelihood programme in Edo State, with a view to providing local work opportunities.  

How your parish can help

Bishop Pat and Fr Mark Odion are offering each parish the opportunity to hear more about this crucial work with a view to parishioners supporting the work through prayer and other practical meams.  

Many Southwark parishes, such as Hayes, Lewisham and Thamesmead are looking forward to welcoming Fr Odion in order to learn more, whilst Tolworth and Sevenoaks have already kindly raised funds to assist with the Human Awareness Campaign.

If you and your parish would like to hear more about this project, particularly during the season of Lent, please contact Bishop Pat Lynch in the first instance.


Cottage Industries in Edo State are providng young people with work in their local area and helping to prevent Human Trafficking.

Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Archdiocese of Benin) receive a generous donation from Tolworth parishioners for their Human Awareness programme.

Link to: the regular meeting of politicians and law enforcement officers, aided by the Church, so foster the work of combating Human Trafficking.

PDF poster for 8th February, annual Day of Prayer for Victims of Trafficking

Text of address by Bishop Patrick Lynch (December 2011) during Seminar on Human Trafficking