In Central and South East Europe
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Improving provision of services and awareness to combat trafficking in persons in the Balkans – Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo

2018-04-03

The Balkans is a region of origin, transit and destination for women, men and children in search of work and better livelihood perspectives, who are at risk of trafficking and exploitation due to interlinked social, economic as well as cultural factors. Despite significant efforts of authorities and demonstrable recent progress in criminalization of trafficking and the prosecution of traffickers in the region, victims’ identification and assistance remain under-considered aspects of the anti-trafficking response in Southeast Europe.

To address the existing gaps, Terre des hommes Foundation Mission in Albania and Kosovo, together with local partners, will implement the project Improving provision of services and awareness to combat Trafficking in Persons (TiP) in the Balkans – Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo”, funded by the U.S. Department of State through the J/TiP program.

The project launching event took place on March 30 in Tirana and welcomed the U.S. Ambassador to Albania, H.E. Mr. Donalda Lu, and the National Coordinators on Anti-trafficking from all four project countries: Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.

In his speech, Mr. Lu emphasized that “Trafficking in persons is not an issue that can be addressed working only on a national level. The transnational collaboration is essential in fighting human trafficking and I am glad that this project is based on this approach”. Mr. Lu appreciated in particular “the innovations in the reintegration services that this project promotes, because our scope is not just to settle victims in the shelters, but to help them build financial stability and confidence that ensure their social reintegration.”

Starting February 2018 until July 2020, the project will strengthen the capacities of service providers and governmental institutions to ensure provision of comprehensive services to victims of trafficking in the four countries of the Balkan region. Thus, it will ensure that victims and potential victims of TiP in the Balkans have access to national and transnational coordinated and comprehensive services, and that potential victims of TiP and targeted public in the Balkans are better informed about human trafficking.

“We are glad that through this project we will continue our efforts to increase and strengthen the collaboration between Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo in assisting victims through unified standard operational procedures and transnational case management, mentioned Ms. Jezerca Tigani, the Country Representative of Terre des hommes Albania and Kosovo, during the event.

This initiative builds upon existing regional and national mechanisms promoting better collaboration and coordination for early identification and assistance to victims and potential victims of TiP, and broadens the spectrum of assistance and continuum of services for potential victims and victims of trafficking based on community level support. “Although unified standard operating procedures are in place since December 2016, still during 2017 these procedures were used only in one case between Albania and Kosovo, even though we are all witness of many children that move between the borders of our countries and fall through the cracks of our system. This is a strong indication that much more should be done to strengthen our response and collaboration to trafficking in persons. Our intervention does not focus only on the macro-level, but aims to help directly victims and potential victims of trafficking by piloting models of community services for the reintegration of victims”, continued Ms. Tigani.

The project is a joint effort of Terre des hommes Mission in Albania and Kosovo and six local partners in the four countries of intervention: The Initiative for Social Change – ARSIS and Different & Equal in Albania; Association for action against violence and trafficking in human beings – Open Gate in Macedonia; SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Niksic in Montenegro; Shpresë dhe Shtëpitë e Fëmijëve and The Center for Protection of Victims and Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings in Kosovo.

To break the vicious circle of trafficking, we aim to ensure continuum between identification and support that goes beyond short-term assistance to victims and to invest in their longer term socio-economic inclusion and a healthy family and social environment.