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"250 Albanian children exploited in Greece"

2007-05-20

Thierry Agagliate, 35, Delegate of Tdh in Albania since June 2005, is developing the third phase of TACT project.
250_Albanian_children_exploited_in_Greece_0.jpgLet’s talk about the model of action of TACT and the main elements of counter child trafficking project in Albania, so first what is the meaning of TACT and which are the key elements?
Thierry Agagliate: TACT stands for Transnational Action against Child trafficking . This is a comprehensive project which articulates different elements for the protection of children victims of trafficking, and the prevention of the phenomenon, and the reintegration of the victims.
The project implies different range of activities, starting from direct intervention, directly at the community and the district level. It includes as well capacity building activities to build up durable mechanism that can contribute to prevent the phenomenon and address it, and it includes as well some advocacy elements.
The project, in this capacity building component, targets three main stakeholders. This is the State, the Albanian and Greek states, and the local governments especially the municipalities where we are building up Child Protection Units. This is the school as well, where we are working with the Ministry of Education to build up some mechanisms of identification and referral of children at risk, and this the community where we work closely especially with the Roma communities to build up some mechanisms of detection and referral as well as some activities in the field of prevention.
TACT Project is implemented on a transitional way, between Albania and Greece, can you give us some insights about the situation between Albania and Greece today now?
Thierry Agagliate: The situation of trafficking between Albania and Greece is today rather stable. There has been a massive influx of Albanian children to Greece in the end of the nineties, beginning of the 2000s. Right now, you have in the streets of Thessalonik, Athens and the tourist places as well, a presence, a steady presence of Albanian children who are exploited mainly for begging. Most of them being from the Roma or Egyptian minorities of Albania.
So the trend is still steady. Today the project can follow up at the moment about 250 kids in the streets of Athens and Thessalonik, which stand for probably the majority of the cases of the Albanian children exploited there.
Can you tell us about the reason why you started also some operations between Albania and the province of Kosovo?
Thierry Agagliate: About two years ago, we started to identify in the places of origin, especially in the town of Fier in Albania, new routes. And one of these routes was going to Kosovo. So we had some testimonies of children coming back from Kosovo or going to Kosovo. We have conducted an investigation a year and half ago, we have found about a hundred kids there, coming from mainly Fier in Albania. And we have noticed that there is indeed a market in the streets of Kosovo, linked mainly to the fact that there are a lot of internationals using the Euro money which make the begging market rather profitable. We decided to address these new routes in the same way that we did it in Greece five years ago…
There is also an important number of Albanian children going also to other countries. Instead of Kosovo, we are talking about Macedonia and Montenegro. Can you tell us more about this?
Thierry Agagliate: The destination countries in the field of child trafficking are continuously evolving. When we started to work, the route of Greece and Italy was definitively the most obvious. These recent years, we have identified the route to Kosovo and about a year ago we started to collect some testimonies of children who were planning to go to Macedonia and to Montenegro, and who have been actually intercepted before so.
We also recorded some information from authorities in Albania and in Kosovo about a potential market for exploitation of children, especially for the sexual exploitation in Macedonia especially. So it seems that both countries have an internal market, for begging and for prostitution, and are also a place of transit for the children towards either Greece of the rest of Western Europe.