Human Trafficking in South Eastern Europe
The report, Trafficking in Human Beings in South Eastern Europe – 2004: Focus on Prevention, examines the efforts of governments, international and local NGOs to prevent trafficking, raise awareness and assist victims. It finds that anti-trafficking measures are still dominated by repressive measures to prevent migration, prostitution and organised crime.
“Preventive strategies in the fight against human trafficking are few and far between,” says Helga Konrad, OSCE Special Representative on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. “The report shows that there is no comprehensive long-term prevention strategy. Yet prevention is the key to success in curbing this crime.”
The report highlights the changing nature of trafficking, with girls and women increasingly trafficked within countries and men increasingly trafficked for labour. It finds that an increasing number of repatriated victims in South Eastern Europe are returning from EU countries, rather than from other parts of South Eastern Europe. What is more, those judged to be trafficking victims often refuse the assistance that is available, as they do not want to return to their countries of origin.
“It is time to establish definitively where progress has been made,” Helga Konrad.The report examines two seemingly contradictory scenarios. In the first, trafficking in the region is decreasing, as there has been a significant reduction in the number of victims assisted. In the other, trafficking is not declining at all, but has simply become less visible, with victims unwilling to seek assistance for fear of repatriation, deportation and stigmatisation.
“It is time to establish definitively where progress has been made,” says Konrad. “A coordinated approach to the problem is central to effective and sustainable solutions.”
The report – the third and last of a series – is published by UNICEF, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). It looks at the situation in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania and Serbia and Montenegro (including the UN administered province of Kosovo).
Based on research carried out in all eight countries in 2004, the report finds that awareness-raising activities are limited to ad-hoc information campaigns by many different organisations. While the campaigns are valuable, few are developed or carried out in the most effective way. Only a handful have been evaluated and lessons learnt have not been shared.
Effective re-integration programmes are rare. Despite help from international and local organisations, most trafficking victims return home to face the same problems that led to the trafficking in the first place: poverty, discrimination, lack of education, few job prospects and, sometimes, political conflict and unrest.
The report calls for:
a greater effort to empower those who have been trafficked and those at risk to address the root causes of trafficking in countries of origin and destination. This requires measures to address discrimination and to revise social and migration policies;
flexible anti-trafficking programmes that adapt to the changing nature of trafficking;
greater understanding of trafficking within the broader context of development, gender equality and poverty reduction, with responses that are shaped accordingly;
more research into the impact of economic reform and development programmes on trafficking in the region and improved cooperation between institutions and development agencies working on trafficking issues;
continued strengthening of social protection systems to prevent child trafficking;
more research into the factors that fuel the demand for trafficking, including the relationship between migration policies and the demand for cheap unprotected labour and services;
greater involvement of civil society in anti-trafficking initiatives, including measures to build their capacity to work more effectively in this area;
long-term prevention to ensure long-term solutions.
Angela Hawke, Communication Officer, UNICEF Regional Office, Geneva (+ 41 22) 909 5433, firstname.lastname@example.org