Many countries around the world celebrated World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023, promoted by the United Nations on 30 June, with the theme "Reaching all trafficked persons, leaving no one behind".
This initiative annually appeals "to governments, law enforcement, public services and civil society to evaluate and improve their efforts to strengthen prevention, identify and support victims and end impunity".
The Catholic Church has also joined this initiative in various ways. In particular, on the African continent, World Day was celebrated in countries such as Angola, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and South Africa.
The Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST), together with the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CEPAMI), organised a "Pilgrimage of Migrants and Refugees" to the Shrine of Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Muxima with the motto "Mama of Muxima help us build a future with migrants and refugees".
The pilgrimage was attended by faithful from the dioceses of Luanda, Viana and Caxito and numerous migrant communities, including Vietnamese and Congolese. The Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by the Archbishop of Huambo and President of CEPAMI, Mgr. Zeferino Zena Martins, and a moment of prayer was dedicated to the victims of human trafficking, and a joint commitment to combat this scourge was confirmed.
An awareness-raising march and a conference were organised in Cape Verde, an initiative promoted by the "Kreditá Na Bo" programme of the Adorers Sisters Slaves of the Blessed Sacrament (Sisters Adorers), and in collaboration with the migration pastoral of the Mindelo diocese.
In the diocese of Wa, Ghana, a meeting was held in the Queen of Peace parish in Nadowli, held by Sister Pia Panpogee, of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, with the participation of religious from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. During the initiative, prayers were said for the victims of human trafficking and visits to some survivors were organised.
In Mozambique, the Episcopal Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People (CEMIRDE) carried out several awareness-raising events in the cities of Tete, Manica and Maputo. In Manica, a training session was held at the multi-purpose centre of the Marera Mission (Chimoio) during which various topics such as Trafficking in Persons, gender violence, peace, democracy and social justice were addressed.
In South Africa, the Bishops' Conference (SACBC) organised a day of awareness-raising through the Justice and Peace Committee of St Martin de Porres Church in Orlando West Soweto. At the end of the Holy Mass, Sister Melanie O'Connor, from the Bishops' Conference's anti-trafficking office, described the problem of modern slavery and highlighted the importance of protecting children and young people. At the end of the meeting, participants recited a prayer to St. Josephine Bakhita.