Macau charity aims to protect migrants from drug addiction
An anti-drug charity in Macau has moved forward with renewed focus and preventative measures to protect migrant communities from drug abuse and illegal drug trafficking in the former Portuguese colony.
The Macao Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Association (ARTM) celebrated the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26 with various activities, including a special Sunday Mass in the village of Our Lady of Ka Ho.
The hilltop facility houses a sanatorium run by Caritas for mentally ill patients and the ARTM drug rehabilitation center. Decades ago, it was home to the island’s only leper colony for Macau’s extremely marginalized lepers.
The event also brought together representatives of major immigrant groups in Macau – Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian and Nepalese.
Augusto Nogueira, president of the ARTM, warned that due to financial difficulties linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, dozens of migrant workers remain vulnerable to drug abuse and trafficking.
“A significant number of people have lost their jobs, are more vulnerable, cannot leave Macau, and some of these people, driven by desperation, may have been tempted by the possibility of making easy money and have fallen out. found in criminal activity, “Nogueira said. Jornal O-Clarim, Macau’s Portuguese-language Catholic weekly.
A series of social and cultural activities will be organized in collaboration with migrant associations from Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The ARTM has taken preventive actions to help migrant workers not fall into the trap of drug abuse and trafficking, he said, adding that one of the main measures is to provide information. on drug laws in Macau in languages such as Vietnamese, Nepalese, Indonesian and Tagalog (Filipino).
Nogueira said the ARTM has been alarmed by some reported cases of problems resulting from drug trafficking and use in migrant communities.
A series of social and cultural activities will be organized in collaboration with migrant associations from Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia to reach out to communities and increase awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and trafficking, he said. declared.
Macau, a city-casino-resort, is a special administrative region of China that was under Portuguese rule from 1557 to 1999. With a population of approximately 680,000 people in an area of approximately 33 square kilometers, Macau is the one of the most densely populated areas of the world inhabited places.
Catholicism in Macau carries the legacy of Portuguese rule. The diocese of Macao covers the entire island and has around 30,000 Catholics in nine parishes
Macau has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world thanks to its massive gaming industry and associated businesses.
For years Macau has also been known as a hub for drug trafficking. In 2016, the authorities amended the drug law and introduced severe penalties, including 15 to 21 years in prison for drug trafficking.
The law has triggered a significant drop in drug abuse and trafficking, according to the Macau Daily Times. Common illegal substances consumed in Macau include methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis.
Due to the high prices of illegal drugs, up to three times higher than in Hong Kong and mainland China, a strong network of drug traffickers has been visibly active for higher profits from illegal drugs.
Macau has been a popular destination for migrants from various parts of Asia due to employment and business opportunities. The pandemic hit the economy hard and triggered the unemployment rate to soar to 2.7%, the highest in 10 years.
As a result, the number of non-resident workers employed in Macau rose from 193,498 in January to 177,663 at the end of 2020, according to the Macau Bureau of Labor Affairs.