World Relief to Launch Network Against Human Trafficking

( [email protected] ) Jul 28, 2004 09:00 PM EDT

On July 28, 2004, World Relief announced that it would launch an extensive network to help the victims of human trafficking and help stop the modern form of slavery that still exists within the States.

According to the Department of Health and Human Service, some 800,000 to 900,000 victims are annually trafficked across international borders; 14,500 and 17,500 of these victims enter the U.S. each year. Most of these victims, a majority of whom is from Asia, Central and South America and Eastern Europe, serve the $7 billion criminal sex trafficking industry.

Often times, the victims are unable to seek help because “they do not speak English, they are afraid, threatened, socially isolated, or their movement is restricted.”

World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, plans to establish a “strategic network of partners” throughout the southeastern U.S., in conjunction with social service providers, criminal justice system representatives, ethnic communities, relevant educational programs and religious communities, to help these victims leave the illegal industry. This strategic network, known as the “Network of Emergency Trafficking Services (NETS),” will provide comprehensive services to the victims including case management; shelter; legal services including immigration relief; advocacy; medical and dental care; mental health assessments; translation and interpretation services; job skills training/ESL and transportation.

World Relief has been given a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime to educate local churches to help the victims spiritually in coping with the change.

"With almost 20,000 victims trafficked annually to the U.S. for exploitation, we knew we had to get involved," said Ruth Billings, deputy director for program initiatives. "World Relief's mission is to help the poor and suffering- and trafficking victims endure incredible suffering. In addition to helping victims, we will also work to educate local churches about this important issue and how they can help."

According to the July 28th announcment, the pilot site will launch within three months in Tampa Florida. Tampa was chosen as the foremost site since 11 partner agencies are already prepared to participate in NETS. Other NETS locations to be established within the year are: High Point, NC; Jacksonville, Fl.; Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tenn. Beginning next year, NETS sites will be established in: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Central Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.