An international ecumenical consultation held in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 20-23 May, gave serious attention to the plight of stateless and trafficked people, and how to better preserve their human rights.
The consultation, organized by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), drew participants from various parts of Asia. They learned about the plight of stateless people and the link with human trafficking in the Asian context.
“Statelessness is a legal anomaly that disenfranchises millions of individuals and communities around the globe," said Semegnish Asfaw, WCC programme executive. “As Christians and as churches, the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace calls us to work for the transformation of this unjust world that is putting on the margins the vulnerable, the trafficked, the stateless.”
Addressing statelessness and human trafficking has been one of the priorities of the Christian Conference of Asia for several years, said Dr Mathews George Chunakara, general secretary of the CCA. “The increasing number of stateless and trafficked people poses serious questions and challenges to humanity and to the tenets of the international law and its principles,” he said. "As transnational migration has increased in recent years, more stateless people are also smuggled or trafficked in Asia and they are forced to work in hazardous jobs in different Asian countries."
Bongkot Napaumporn, a protection associate with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees noted that the commission recognizes that faith-based organizations can play an important role in communities and can provide important social, physical and spiritual support for people who are stateless. “We stand ready to work with faith-based organizations and other agencies in their work so that together we can all tackle statelessness,” said Napaumporn.
Participants in the consultation, titled “Statelessness and Human Trafficking in Asia: Prevention, Reduction, and Protection,” noted that there is a clear link between statelessness, forced migration and human trafficking.
There are over 10 million stateless people in the world, 40 percent of whom are in Asia. Of the 36 million people who are trafficked in the world, more than 23 million of them are in Asia.