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Albania – Kosovo – FYR of Macedonia: Further steps in strengthening a transnational referral mechanism for Children on the Move

2015-03-31

March 31st, 2015 Pristina Kosovo:  Child protection professionals and decision makers  from Albania, Kosovo and the FYR of Macedonia attended a transnational meeting in the framework of the Mario project with the objective of creating a common understanding on the protection needs of “children on the move” and identifying concrete steps to establish a functional referral mechanism between the three countries.

During the event - supported by Terre des hommes Albania & Kosovo, Save the Children Albania, and Open Gate/ La strada Macedonia-  Riza Murati, Deputy Director for Investigation of Trafficking in Persons from Kosovo Police, welcomed the participants and presented the objectives and the agenda of the meeting.  Representatives from Terre des hommes and Open Gate of Macedonia presented the findings from two transnational research reports: “Children and Adolescents on the Move Involved in Street Work in Albania and Kosovo: Transnational and Internal Patterns” and “Children and Adolescents Engaged in Street Work in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Mobilities, Vulnerabilities and Resiliencies”. These reports look at the intersections of child migration, street children and child labor and identify issues and possibilities of improving the protection of children who experience migration and mobility – both internally and across borders – in the three countries.

 

Anti-trafficking and child protection authorities of Kosovo, Albania and the FYR of Macedonia made a short presentation of the three National Referral Mechanisms for cases of children at risk or identified as victims of trafficking.  Participants held a discussion on the referral mechanisms and their functionality in practice to deal with cases of children on the move in each country. The focus of this discussion was to determine whether the existing mechanisms respond to issues of children on the move versus children victims of trafficking. Currently protocols exist only in cases of child trafficking, but many cases of children on the move do not necessarily fall into this category. Because of this reason, among others, many children moving across the borders of these countries remain unidentified, unprotected and without any access to services while on the move.

 

Participants in the meeting concluded that there is a need to expand the current mechanisms of referral and to reinforce the transnational collaboration to respond to the needs of children on the move. Some of the agreements and next steps of collaboration between Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia that the participants to the meeting suggested on the issue of children on the move are:

1) to have a broader child protection focus rather than the narrower anti-trafficking approach;

2) to have an additional trilateral Memorandum of Understanding; and

3) to organize additional transnational meetings between the three countries.

Mr. Vebi Mujku, Director of the Center for Social Work in Pristina said “These meetings are useful because we can learn from each other’s experience and establish contacts with professionals to refer cases in the neighbor countries”