The Balkans Freedom Forum, 25 May 2022
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.
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.
Missing Persons Families Support Centre
Contact for enquiries: Arūnė Bernatonytė [email protected] or +370 670 52725.
To protect people fleeing the war in Ukraine, the EU Anti-Trafficking
Coordinator together with EU agencies and countries developed a
tailor-made Common Anti-Trafficking Plan, to address the risks of
trafficking in human beings and support potential victims.
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.
Click to read the newsletter in French
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:
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.
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.
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,
Pope Francis, WDMR 2020
The full bulletin can be accessed in 5 languages in our library here
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.