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Unicef UK ambassador, and actor, Michael Sheen today gave the opening address at the All-Wales Anti Slavery Conference.

First published:
18 October 2016
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Unicef UK ambassador, and actor, Michael Sheen today gave the opening address at the All-Wales Anti Slavery Conference.

Sheen spoke about the role of society and Government in promoting the protection of refugee children and victims of trafficking.  There are now 28 million child refugees fleeing conflict and seeking safety and protection. And many of them end up, due to their extreme vulnerability, being exploited. Sheen praised the Welsh Government for its efforts so far on dealing with trafficking, but stressed that the unprecedented refugee crisis means that we are facing the biggest challenge of our generation, in keeping vulnerable children safe. 

Held as part of Anti-Slavery week and organised by the Welsh Government’s Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator, Stephen Chapman, the conference brought together experts in the field with public and third sector organisations who are working to make Wales hostile to slavery and human trafficking and provide the best possible support to survivors. 

Stephen Chapman said:

“Raising awareness of modern slavery is key to tackling the issue. We have already seen good progress, with the number of cases reported more than doubling this year compared to the last. I do not believe the numbers of cases are increasing but that more people are recognising slavery and more victims are coming forward. This is the first step to us bringing the perpetrators to justice and supporting victims. I am grateful to Michael for his support in helping us to get this important message out.  

Michael Sheen said:

“Wales is leading by example the fight against the appalling crime of child trafficking. What happens in Wales is part of a much bigger regional and global problem, that requires global solutions. The refugee and migrant crisis is making children even more vulnerable to traffickers and smugglers, for example only a few miles from the UK border, in Calais, hundreds of unaccompanied children are at risk of falling prey to these criminal gangs before the camp is demolished. 

“Children may be refugees, internally displaced or migrants, but they are first and foremost children. They bear no responsibility for the violence and deprivations around them, but are always the first to be affected by war, conflict, climate change and poverty.

“The UK has a responsibility to protect children at risk of trafficking, exploitation and abuse.”  

Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant said:

“Slavery is a crime which affects an estimated 20 million men, women and children across the globe. This includes Wales, which is why we are making every effort to raise awareness of and eradicate slavery here. We are very fortunate to have excellent partners who are working with us on tackling this crime and I am very pleased that Michael is one of them.”