Africa’s new Slave Trade on the edge of the desert in Niger.



 One of Agadez’s ‘Connection Houses,’ where middlemen put migrants in touch with people smugglers. Photograph: IOM.
One of Agadez’s ‘Connection Houses,’ where middlemen put migrants in touch with people smugglers. Photograph: IOM.

Networking, sharing resources, skills and knowledge is essential if we are to respond in light of Gospel values to the increasing numbers of migrants fleeing poverty and trying to come to Europe, with dreams and hopes of a better life.
Heretofore we have read of the tragic loss of life on the Mediterranean, as unseaworthy vessels capsize and sink, and ensuing drowning of countless thousands. Last week, both The Observer and The Guardian newspapers featured articles on the harsh realities befalling migrants as they struggle to get to the north African coast and cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Criminal gangs prey on the migrants, charging extortionate prices for transit across the desert, only to trade the migrants to the highest bidder at markets and trading centres, historically known for centuries-old slave-trading thought to have been long-since dead.
Torture, beatings, rape and abuse are frequently meted out to those who are detained at camps as they await boats to ferry them across the Mediterranean. For those fortunate to survive, intense trauma therapies and all forms of healthcare are necessary for their long, personal journey of healing and survival.
RENATE members met many such survivors when they visited shelters with Sr. Valeria Gandini, in Palermo last January and throughout RENATE member countries, supports are ongoing, to those who sadly fall victim to human trafficking and exploitation once they eventually arrive in Europe.  (Please see January 2017 archives).
To help us respond to the needs of those traumatised by trafficking and exploitation, Human Trafficking and Trauma, will be a theme of the 2018 RENATE training programme, details of which will be available at a later stage. 
For more information on the slave trade on the edge of the desert in Niger, please see:
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

News from Natalja Kurcinskja Director Missing Persons Families Support Centre Vilnius.


Natalja Kurčinskaja, Director, Missing Persons’ Families Support Centre in Vilniuis, Lithuania, shares newsof their recent discussions on how best to support victims of human trafficking, issues of access and the variety of possible support services schemes that might be made available in Lithuanian Municipalities.
Much discussion centred on the dilemma of how best to serve those who need the services from the Centres but are non-residents in the local municipality, or are residents locally but wish to avail of supports in another Municipality? Another consideration was whether or not the Centre can offer assistance to victims who are non-Lithuanian citizens and not registered to live in Lithuania? Additionally, what is their capacity to offer support to a victim who is homeless and of no fixed Municipality?
Currently, final works are under way to conclude renovations to the building which will house the offices of the Missing Persons’ Families Support Centre, comprising the main office, a crisis counselling centre, three shelter rooms, two bathrooms, sitting room and kitchen. It is hoped to transfer to the refurbished building in the Autumn of this year, subject to securing the final funds to complete necessary works.  
RENATE wishes Natalja and all at the Centre continued success in their hugely important work.
Photograph of participants at the meeting, left to right:

  1. Daiva Buivydaitė-Garbštienė, head of the Social Security and Labour Ministry Social Services Department; 
  2. Vaiva Lazauskiene Caritas of Vilnius Archdiocese.
  3. Rita, volunteer;
  4. Natalja Kurcinskaja, Director of Missing Persons’ Families Support Centre;
  5. Eitvydas Bingelis, Social Security and Labour Vice-Minister;

Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications.

ANDANTE Study Days, 3-8 May 2017. Theme: An Old Crime in New Forms – Study days on Modern Slavery. Venue: The Majestic Hotel, Durrës, Albania.


52 delegates from thirteen countries attended the ANDANTE study days in Durrës, Albania where RENATE President and ANDANTE President, Dr Mary McHugh (UK) and Vroni Peterhans-Suter (Switzerland), extended a warm welcome to all present.   Mary and Vroni encouraged delegates to avail of the opportunities for interactions, dialogue and sharing in order to better impact on the eradication of exploitation and trafficking, old crimes in new forms of Modern Slavery.
Prayerful reflection and joyful singing were the hallmarks of each Study Day, which began with morning Liturgy and concluded with amicable table fellowship each night.
The parable of the nameless Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26) was referenced at the outset of our first morning, challenging participants to consider and to live, the lessons disclosed in it. This parable was selected because of its example of how the outcasts and marginalised people – including women and girls- were in the central sight-lines of Christ’s ministry. 
Acknowledging the centrality of women and their responsibility to actively engage in church and society, was a recurring theme throughout the Study Days.
Delegates learned about the situation regarding Human Trafficking across Europe; Protection and rehabilitation processes for victims; Prevention work against trafficking in Albania and creative approaches to prevention work across Europe in general. 
Presentations on activities underway by SOLWODI Romania, SOLWODI Germany, the Council of Europe, Zusterwerk (the Netherlands) were appreciated and very informative.
In sharing extensively about the numerous initiatives underway in Albania and in partnership with other NGO’s internationally, Mary Ward Loreto presented first-hand experiences which were exemplars of hope and possibility, when working in the prevention of human trafficking and exploitation and supports to survivors.   
The implications for ANDANTE were comprehensively discussed by the delegates, who departed Albania with a heightened awareness about Modern Slavery and the positive and constructive actions that can be undertaken, however small, which can contribute towards bringing an end to human trafficking and exploitation.
Please click here to read full report: ANDANTE Report 3-8 May, 2017.
Please click here to read: ANDANTE Study Days outcomes 3-8 May, 2017.
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Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

Sham Marriages on the increase in Scotland.


A BBC documentary has revealed criminal gangs are selling eastern European women into ‘sham marriages’ with older Asian men after trafficking them into Britain.
Humans for Sale found that the poverty-stricken victims are lured to Scotland on the promise of a better life before being raped and abused by gangs.
The women are controlled by their traffickers and then forced into the marriages with third party nationals, who are often using them as a route to a British passport. Statistical data reveals that almost 40% of the ‘’sham marriages’’ end after five years, the period necessary to secure legal status to live and work in Scotland.
Many of the girls are too ashamed to come forward and approach the authorities, preferring to simply disappear into the background. Traumatised by their experiences, mental health issues abound, ultimately leading to significant damage to the welfare of the girls.
One of the strengths of the RENATE network, is its ability to work together to share experiences and resources in working closely with NGO’s to assist in the shelter or safe return of victims.      
Read more: 
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications.