Several weeks ago the news that a man in the United States had kidnapped an 11 year old girl eighteen years ago and had, until recently kept her as a sex slave and that she bore two children to him shocked the Nation.
The revelation this week that ACORN workers in Baltimore engaged in felonious activity promoting prostitution involving teenage girls smuggled in from Central America focuses our attention on the worldwide phenomenon of trafficking in female sex slaves.
The front-page headlines and lead stories in the news tell us of the terrible fighting between Taliban militants and the Pakistani army. This fighting has dislodged 2.5 MILLION frightened Pakistanis from their homes.
They are on the run with nothing but what they can carry.
More than half are children, many unaccompanied or orphaned by the violence, and they are particularly subject to enslavement and shipment into the international sex industtry.
And many are households headed by women, newly widowed or abandoned, likewise at risk.
For all who flee the conflict between Taliban and government forces, this is the end of normal life as they knew it!
In a country where custom requires one to invite strangers for tea and cakes, countless families have no chair to offer, nothing, not even the usual tea or cakes.
Instead, uncounted numbers of people are fleeing beheadings, lashings and public executions. There is no security, no safety. Hospitals are closed. Shops are shuttered.
Over TWO MILLION souls, Christians and Muslims, are bound together in fear and suffering, dire need and extreme vulnerability. Days ago they had homes with toilets, running water, and electricity, but now hundreds of thousands are living in squalor in tents or in shelters made of cardboard, discarded lumber and paper, while others crowd into the homes of relatives, 10 or more to a room.
All signs are that this conflict and the suffering that results will escalate in the coming weeks.
We’re facing one the largest internal displacements of people in recent times! And without your help many will surely die!
How can you help?
Let me tell you about a vital relief organization working right now to coordinate relief efforts in Pakistan and other troubled locations around the world.
It’s the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).
When my friend John Klink, the president of ICMC, asked me to write a letter on his organization’s behalf, I sat down immediately and began that letter. It is being mailed at this time.
Poor living conditions in Pakistan are placing families, particularly children and the elderly, at risk. Without enough food, more are becoming dangerously malnourished. And without clean water or adequate sanitation, diseases like diarrhea, which is the leading killer of children in the developing world, are sure to take their toll.
Right now in the camps practically everything one needs to sustain life is in short supply. Clean water, pots and other utensils, soap, toothbrushes, clothing, medical supplies, even floor mats to cover the dirt floors of the tents are hard to come by.
And though life in the camps is filled with filth, noise and NEED, for the persons taking refuge in the homes of relatives or friends, life isn’t much better.
Simple two-room homes that were meant to hold one family are now sheltering as many as 25. Food and water supplies are dangerously low. And days pass with no news of when it’s safe to return home, since “home” still has no electricity or water … closed shops, banks and hospitals … damaged roads and little if any security.
Today, in Pakistan, millions of all religions, including many of my brothers and sisters in Christ, are homeless, hungry, sick and without hope. And unless good and compassionate people around the world take immediate action, many will suffer needlessly!
The International Catholic Migration Commission is doing the best it can to cope with this crisis. But with refugee crises already underway in Africa, the Middle East and East Asia, resources are stretched to the limit.
MORE MONEY is NEEDED IMMEDIATELY if a humanitarian catastrophe is to be avoided in Pakistan!
The ICMC—introduced to the world by Pope Pius XII in 1952—has always relied on donations from the faithful.
Created by the Vatican to meet the needs of Eastern European refugees from World War II, the history of ICMC is one of Christ-like love and charity.
For more than 55 years, as refugees and displaced persons wait and wonder if they’ll ever be able to return home, ICMC has worked through a network of partner organizations to meet their needs as well as to assist them in returning home or building a productive life in a new land.
Jesus Christ told his followers to “welcome the stranger” (Matthew 25).
The work of ICMC is inspired and guided by this Gospel imperative.
They serve the needs of uprooted people: refugees, internally displaced persons and forced migrants, regardless of creed, nationality or ethnic origin.
ICMC strives to help everyone who needs them by concentrating their efforts on the most vulnerable of uprooted persons—female heads of households, the frail, the elderly, the disabled, those traumatized by violence, separated children and at-risk minorities, as well as women and girls lured or enslaved into the commercial sex industry.
In addition to providing emergency humanitarian aid, ICMC works long after the immediate crisis is over to return families safely to their homes…to resettle those who can’t return home in a welcoming host country…to work with governments to provide better protection for uprooted persons…and to combat the trafficking and exploitation of human beings worldwide!
However, as you can imagine, the needs of uprooted people around the world far exceed the resources of ICMC.
The ICMC, has been in Pakistan since 1998. It is already on the ground at the Jalal refugee camp working night and day to meet the life-critical needs of the people. But things are worsening rapidly and to save lives support is needed NOW to:
Provide food for 1200 families for the next 3 months at a cost of $42.33 per family per month (rice, flour, lentils, tea, milk packs, sugar, spices and cooking oil).
Distribute “hygiene kits” to 1200 families at a cost of $130.53 per kit (towels, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, nail clippers, combs, mosquito nets, water purification tablets and other items).
Supply “kitchen kits” to 1200 families at a cost of $80.87 each (pots, pans and utensils).
Give “household kits” to 1200 families at a cost of $61.13 each (torches, floor mats, pillows, sheets and water coolers).
In addition, ICMC and its international and local partners are opening up stockpiles of supplies, providing more food, water, tents, blankets, clothing and medicine necessary in unsanitary and crowded conditions.
So as this emergency unfolds in Pakistan, ICMC needs help and the suffering people of Pakistan need prayers.
In the Holy Father’s message for the 95th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Jan. 18, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us of St. Paul’s call to “practice hospitality;” to “live brotherly love to the full without making any kind of distinction and without discrimination, in the conviction that anyone who needs us and whom we can help is our neighbour.”
A tax-deductible gift can be sent to ICMC at this address:
INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC MIGRATION COMMISSION
PAKISTAN EMERGENCY RELIEF
PO Box 96030
Washington, DC 20090-6030
You will receive a printed receipt for your tax-deductible donation to the ICMC.
Created in 1951 by the Vatican, ICMC is an international Catholic operating organization serving and protecting uprooted people -refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants – regardless of faith, race, ethnicity or nationality.
The International Catholic Migration Commission, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Your gift to ICMC is tax-deductible and may be personal or corporate.