Around midnight on Monday, a North Macedonian border patrol officer stopped a truck on a regional road near the town of Gevgelija. He found 211 migrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan packed inside, including 63 minors.
Gevgelija is close to the country’s border with Greece, which government authorities have closed during the coronavirus pandemic. But trafficking networks in the area have continued to transport migrants through Greece into North Macedonia on their way north into the heart of the European Union. Officers arrested the driver and kept the migrants at a special shelter for victims of trafficking while working to deport them back to Greece.
The U.S. State Department listed North Macedonia as a tier two country on its Trafficking in Persons list, which it updated on June 25. The list, which has been in existence for two decades, attempts to hold nations accountable for policing human trafficking.
“That 25 million people are enslaved around the world is an indictment of our age,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “That many ignore this reality is an even further indictment. God created human beings in His image and never gave human beings dominion or ownership over other image bearers.”
The State Department ranks countries based on their compliance with standards outlined in the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The list helps the U.S. government make decisions about foreign aid. Countries that don’t make an effort to meet the standards land in tier three and can lose access to financial support from the United States.
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