in Europe

Children and Adolescents on the Move Involved in Street Work in Albania and Kosovo: Transnational and Internal Patterns

Zana Vathi | Mario Project | 59 pages
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This report looks at the intersections of child migration, street children and child labour
with the aim of identifying issues and possibilities of improving the protection of children
who experience migration and mobility – both transnationally and internally – in Albania
and Kosovo. The research presented here aims at further expanding the knowledge on
the ‘categories’ of child migration, street children and child labour as part of a major
initiative – the Mario project ‘Protect Children on the Move’.

The main objectives of the umbrella research are:
• To identify emerging Central and South East European (C/SEE) children’s migration
• To offer an in-depth understanding of the vulnerability factors that affect C/SEE
migrant children during their migration path and once they have settled in.
• To analyze the adequacy and effectiveness of government responses to the protection
needs of C/SEE migrant children.
• To support Mario partners’ advocacy efforts with evidence-based recommendations on
the improvement of the transnational protection of C/SEE migrant children

The findings deriving from desk research and fieldwork for this project are presented in
the coming sections, starting with migration patterns. The primary goal of transnational
migration and other movements within the borders documented in this report was finding
employment and the improvement of participants’ economic situation. An important
place in this research, therefore, is dedicated to the analysis of patterns of urban street
work, which consists of an important aspect the Mario Project focuses on. Economic
activities on the street consisted of a crucial livelihood strategy for participants of this
study. The regimes of street work analysed in this report appear to have important time
dimensions, which had important implications for the patterns of migration across the
borders and also internal movements. Differences were found to exist among children
and adolescents and between minor and adult street workers.

Care is also shown that alongside vulnerabilities of children on the move, research
does not overlook their resilience and coping strategies. In this research, children and
adolescents appeared as vulnerable because of poverty, uncertainty and poor living and
working conditions that posed threats to their health and wellbeing. At the same time,
children and caretakers appeared as active agents in countering the negative effects
of their living and working conditions. While the report is careful not to trivialise the
challenges that caretakers and children face, instances of networking, socialisation and
leisure, and social support are analysed here, so as to do justice to these participants’

In the penultimate section, the report attempts an analysis of systemic features in terms
of child protection and other services for children on the move in Kosovo. The section
combines information deriving from interviews with stakeholders with an analysis of the
narratives of children, caretakers and key community members. The features of child
services uncovered through these narratives show that there exist a certain hierarchy of
categories of children that require protection and legal provisions – a hierarchy that is
compatible with the definition of children on the move as understood by policy makers
and service providers. The findings of this report show that the policy framework is
focused on unaccompanied minors and exploitation, and identifies child refugees and
those that have experienced trafficking as top categories, reflecting also international
discourses on children on the move and academic discourses on the topic.

The report concludes with policy recommendations, which aim to enhance advocacy in the
region on issues of children on the move. These recommendations are directed towards
policy makers, service providers and academics working on children on the move. For the
very nature of movements across the borders and the fact that social and legal protection
are, to a large extent, nationally contained, this report suggests that it is important to
enhance transnational cooperation and encourage bilateral agreements between countries
in the region. In turn, work at a national level could focus on preventing marginalisation
by analysing the source of vulnerability for certain groups and individuals, by taking
a transformative approach to social protection systems and measures (Sabates-Wheeler
and Waite 2003). Specific measures could focus on relieving the effects of long-standing
discrimination towards certain groups that are prominent among children and adults on
the move that engage in street work such as the RAE communities.