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25/6/2014 - Spain - “I am not for sale”- the campaign is fighting a complex reality that is invisible and alarming
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(ANS - Madrid) - "We are facing a complex reality that is invisible and alarming." This is one of the conclusions of the event launching the I am not for sale campaign, sponsored by the Mission Office in Madrid. It takes its name from the video that was screened yesterday, during the launch. In the panel discussion that followed three speakers analyzed what is being done in Africa for the protection of children who are victims of trafficking and exploitation.

The three speakers, all coming from different perspectives, agreed on the need for action on several fronts: political, social, legal, economic, military, and even ethical and moral. What is needed  first of all is a change of mentality whereby human trafficking is seen for what it is - modern slavery.

"Jihadist terrorism, organized crime and war are the three evils that are consuming Africa," said Lieutenant Colonel Jesús Díez Alcalde of the Spanish Army and analyst at the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies.  He also directed a strong appeal to the European Union: "What is public opinion doing in the 28 countries that form the European Union?" And he added: "People often look to the EU and wonder, what is it doing? (...) I have always maintained, and that is why we are here today, that we should be the ones to  become aware of what the EU is or is not doing.  It is also our responsibility.  The EU does a lot, but we could well ask if all this assistance is doing anything for the development of Africa as we had hoped."

Nicolás Castellanos, a journalist of Cadena Ser who specializes in issues of migration, cooperation and development, said that the Salesian missions are fighting trafficking in the countries of origin, but that "we all still have a long way to go. (...)  We must put a stop to the third most profitable business in the world. Spain is the main gateway to the trafficking of human beings, both from Africa, and Latin America."

Last to speak was Fr Juan José Gómez, a Salesian missionary and director of the "Foyer Don Bosco" in Benin.  He said that Benin is considered "the place of origin, transit and destination for the trafficking of children aged between 10 and 14." These are children who come from small towns and villages. They are trafficked taking advantage of a positive cultural tradition that was widely practised in Spain and around the world. “Parents in small towns and villages sent their children to study in large cities, entrusting them to the care of a family member or an acquaintance. Unfortunately this fine tradition, that once offered a better future for children, has now degenerated into trafficking."

This led to the campaign "I am not for sale” to fight for a better future for the children not only in Benin, but in the whole of Africa, where, as Fr Gomez said, "The Preventive System of Don Bosco is very effective. These children were accustomed to obey blindly and we had to give them reasons to continue to believe in a better future. "

Published 25/06/2014

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