Mr Palm's address during the 1st anniversary of the National Child Helpline on 9 October 2010
Child Helpline “ALO 116” an instrument for protecting children
National Child Helpline “ALO 116” presents its first two Ambassadors, Mrs Jozefina Topalli, Speaker of the Albanian Parliament and Mr Lorik Cana, member of the Albanian National football team
When we launched together the National Child Helpline ALO 116 a year ago, our predictions were reserved. Now, one year later, whenever we talk about the helpline, I feel extremely proud. Our most optimistic expectations have been exceeded. This cooperation between the government, civil society and some of the best private companies in Albania has proven to be one of the best initiatives that UNICEF has been associated with in this region.
The aim was to first encourage children to have the courage to talk about their problems, and oftentimes, abuse. Then, the helpline was to help children, parents and teachers to understand that children have rights and what needs to be done about it. The helpline now offers a chance to children to report if they feel lonely, abused or maltreated. Somebody is listening to them, day and night. ALO 116 also makes everyone understand, that children – even if they are small – must enjoy the full range of all human rights.
Over the last year, the helpline responded to more than 140 thousand children who picked up the phone to call for help, information or referral.
According to the European Union, every member state should have a helpline. Many European countries do not yet have it yet. Albania has a helpline that meets the highest professional service standards.
I like to thank the dedicated staff of CRCA and ALO 116 for their energy, professionalism and hard work. I like to thank all telephone companies who made their numbers available free of charge, which makes the service truly accessible for all children. I like to thank the government who provided all the needed support to make it happen.
I also like to thank the Head of the Albanian Parliament. Mrs. Jozefina Topalli, on behalf of UNICEF I thank you for your highest engagement for the Child Helpline, which is a great encouragement for all concerned.
I want to thank Mr. Lorik Cana for the extraordinary example that he has given as a good-willing ambassador for the Albanian children.
Finally, let me call on everyone in Albania to find ways to ensure that ALO 116 continues to exist forever; and that similar initiatives for children happen more often. It might be difficult, but trust me: investments in children bring the greatest return for Albania.