The international network of sisters known as Talitha Kum, who work to confront human trafficking and slavery worldwide, have held their second international co-ordination meeting in Rome and the Vatican. Twenty-seven sisters from 25 congregations took part in working out the organization’s strategy to continue to fight these crimes over the next few years.

The sisters identified that human trafficking is increasing across all continents, and that most victims are found in politically unstable countries where unemployment and poverty is high, and security low. They confirmed there’s been an increase in more men, women and children being traded within and between neighboring countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Talitha Kum networks enlist the help of governmental and non-governmental groups and church organizations in 70 countries worldwide to prevent human trafficking and to protect its victims. Women and children continue to benefit most from their work, though men are also protected. Those who help Talitha Kum’s work are from both religious and lay groups.

At the Rome meeting, the sisters shared their on-the-ground expertise about current migration routes being used and the effects of the current economic situation on communities.

Talitha Kum now plan to strengthen their network worldwide, to encourage more sisters to work full time and to create new ways to raise more funds for anti-trafficking initiatives. There are approximately 500,000 sisters worldwide with the potential to get involved.

The sisters, who work alongside locals in order to uncover human rights abuses, often rely on donated money to remove people from exploitation before placing them in networks of safe homes they’ve set up across the world: from Africa to the Philippines, to Brazil and India.

They believe the world’s human trafficking situation has become even more challenging, making their need to expand an urgent priority.