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The Balkans Freedom Forum, 25 May 2022

 

THE BALKANS FREEDOM FORUM is a conference organized under the care of the President of Albania His Excellency, Mr. Ilir Meta, and with the care of Amb. John Richmond,  Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Person (ret) which will take place on 25 of May 2022 at Tirana International Hotel & Conference Centre
This interdisciplinary conference will be a platform to discuss Human Trafficking’s current trends in the Balkan countries, especially in this time of refugee crisis from the war in Ukraine and the collapse of Afghanistan.
Different personalities and NGOs that work in the field will cover various topics related to human trafficking that will be relevant to social service providers, lawyers, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and other key community actors.

On the Commemoration of the International Day of Missing Children

 

On the 25th of May, Lithuania marks the International Day of Missing Children.

Commemorating this day aims not only to sympathise with those whose children have gone missing, but also to promote the prevention of this phenomenon.

 

We invite you to visit the sculpture “Mommy…!” next to the Lithuanian and Children’s Youth Centre, to tie ribbons on the branches of the trees with your children, and to take time to talk to your children about the difficulties they are facing, to listen to what they have to say, and to inform them about the dangers of being away from home. 

 

The day was chosen  because of a story that shocked the United States when, on 25 May 1979, six-year-old Ethan Patz disappeared  without a trace on his way to school at a bus stop just a couple of blocks from his home. On the initiative of the  Missing Persons Families Support Centre, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania added this day to the list of  commemorative days in 2006. The European Union has a single 116 000 hotline for reporting missing children  around the clock. This hotline is administered in Lithuania by the Missing Persons Families Support Centre  (hereinafter – the Centre), which is a member of the international organisations Amber Alert Europe and the  International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (USA). In 2018, the Centre, together with the US Embassy,  the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Police Department and Facebook, launched  Amber Alert Facebook, the first emergency child tracing system in Lithuania. 

Child disappearance is a real, dynamic and growing problem both in Lithuania and across Europe. Around 250 000 children go missing in Europe every year. According to the Missing Persons Register, there will be 2,251 cases in Lithuania in 2020 and 1,575 cases in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, 427 cases. Missing Persons Families  Support Centre, in cooperation with the General Emergency Centre (112), answered 196 calls on hotline 116 000 in  2020, compared to 190 calls in 2021. On 24th of February in 2022 people are fleeing the country in large numbers  since Russia started the war in Ukraine. According to the administrators of the 116 000 hotline in Ukraine, the NGO Magnolia, 2 100 children have disappeared since the war began. And this number is growing every day. 

There are different reasons for the disappearance of children. Children who are missing, unsupervised or constantly running away from home can become an easy prey for criminals. They are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. 

More information 

Missing Persons Families Support Centre 

Contact for enquiries:  Arūnė Bernatonytė [email protected] or +370 670 52725. 

Prevention video “Every minute is precious” (1:00 min): 

Contre la Traite newsletter: advocacy for refugees from Ukraine

 

The French Collective “Together against human trafficking” has prepared an advocacy letter in the context of the war in Ukraine. 

Welcomed in many countries, people fleeing war are at risk of falling prey to human traffickers. In France, the context of an arrival of people fleeing Ukraine has triggered greater media attention on the issue of the exploitation of people in a migration situation. It also triggered stronger coordination between institutions and associations, French and international, in order to propose tools for raising public awareness on the issue to prevent trafficking, better identify victims, support them and combat the phenomenon.

Together against trafficking in human beings presented the following important points to be taken into account in public policies in the context of the Ukrainian conflict, so that the current experience can benefit all migrants, regardless of their age or nationality.

  • Pay attention to all forms of trafficking. Adopt a human rights
    approach
  • Protect displaced people of all nationalities
  • Create a national hotline dedicated to human trafficking
  • Inform about the dangers of the internet
  • Support those who host displaced people
  • Educate hotel staff
  • Give the tools to volunteers and professionals in contact with
    migrants
  • Coordinate action
  • Offer psychological support to displaced people
  • Recognition of the rights of displaced people
  • Protect especially women and children
  • Fight against all forms of exploitation of minors
  • Informing about the risks of surrogacy

Click to read the newsletter in French

Link to archive of newsletters

New RENATE Network Core group elected

 

The RENATE Working Board are pleased to announce the names of the newly elected Core  group.

This election took place at the Working Board meeting 8-13 May 2022, in Ravenstein,  the Netherlands, following a prayerful discernment process.  

The following named members of the new RENATE core group will formally assume office at  the RENATE General Assembly, in Fatima, Portugal, 13-19 November 2022: 

  1. Mrs. Ardita Keraj Korriku (Albania). 
  2. Ms. Ivonne van de Kar (the Netherlands).  
  3. Judit Knab, CJ, (Hungary).  
  4. Mr. Jakup Sabedini (Kosovo).  
  5. Mrs. Joanna Terzieva (Bulgaria).  
  6. Marie Power, HFB, (UK).  
  7. Ms. Rania Ioakeimidou (Greece).  

In the meantime, the new Core group will convene to elect, from within their membership,  three colleagues who will form the RENATE Presidential team. Together, the New Core  Group and within this group, the new Presidential Team, will draw upon their collective  gifts and talents to implement the new mandate coming forth from the Assembly of RENATE  in November 2022. 

L to R: Joana Terzieva, Marie Power, HFB, Judit Knab, CJ, Ardita Korriku Keraj, Ivonne van de Kar, Rania Ioakeimidou & Jakup Sebedini.

We heartily congratulate the team who, we know, will bring a collective wealth of experience to the role. RENATE invites your prayers for this new team that they may be filled with fortitude and wisdom as they prepare for this new call to mission as the  upcoming leadership team of RENATE. 

“The economic contribution of migrants to host countries” – Vatican COVID-19 Commission Bulletin

 

A new Bulletin by the Vatican’s COVID-19 Commission and Migrants & Refugees Section has been published:

Flaminia Vola, Regional Coordinator in Western Europe for the Vatican Migrants & Refugees Section, emphasises the prevalence of exploitation and poor treatment of migrant workers in her introduction:

“Migrant workers often have to accept unsafe and unfair work and must live in precarious conditions. They are exposed to various forms of slavery and lack a welfare system protecting them. They are among the victims of the widespread “culture of waste”, which – Pope Francis reminds us – is at the origin of the inequality that afflicts the world.

In this Bulletin, we will look at solutions that might help build a new future for work, offering decent and dignified working conditions, in which the most vulnerable are not left behind. A future that strives to provide proper work everywhere, for those staying in their homeland and for newcomers too. A world where all workers are treated equally, without discrimination or exploitation and with due regard for their rights.”

“If we really want to promote those whom we assist, 

                                we must involve them and make them agents in their own redemption.”
Pope Francis, WDMR 2020

The full bulletin can be accessed in 5 languages in our library here

OSCE Alliance Conference on Combatting Trafficking in Persons: UK statement, April 2022

 

Source: gov.uk

UK Ambassador Neil Bush conveys UK’s appreciation for OSCE’s role in combatting trafficking, and for their work with people affected by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Delivered on: 6 April 2022 (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)

“The UK continues to value the OSCE’s role in combatting trafficking in human beings – as a convener, a thought-leader, and delivery partner – all of which have been demonstrated over the past three days. We were pleased to be able to support the Office of the Special Representative during the financial year just ended with the second phase of their project on supply chains – an area where many victims of trafficking are hidden. And we stand ready to support the Office in their response to the war in Ukraine.

As we sit here, and others have said before me, Russia continues its war of aggression, violating the borders of another country and causing widespread suffering. Among the many terrible tragedies resulting from this conflict are the massive displacement and refugee flows that are creating conditions that – as UNICEF have said – could lead to a significant spike in human trafficking and an acute child protection crisis.

Two million children have now fled Ukraine, and an additional 2.5 million children have been displaced. And as the barbarism of Russia’s actions is being laid bare, there is also the risk that criminals exploit the appalling humanitarian situation.

As we heard earlier this week, human rights organisations are starting to register the first cases of suspected sex traffickers and pimps preying on Ukrainian women near refugee shelter points. They report women as having been accosted under the guise of offers of transport, work or accommodation. As more people start to flee individually, rather than in groups, individuals who need protection are sadly even more vulnerable to abuse.

I commend the work of the OSCE in documenting the testimony of those who have fled President Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine. As our Minister for the United Nations said recently at the UN General Assembly, we must all listen carefully to the most vulnerable in our societies, and to come together regionally and internationally to ensure this generation of trafficking victims is the last.

Thank you.”