Preventing human trafficking in the Western Balkans and supporting victims
Title: Prevention and combating of human trafficking in the Western Balkans
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia
Lead executing agency: Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI)
Overall term: 2019 to 2023
Despite systems that are in place to combat human trafficking, the Western Balkan states (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia) are scarcely able to prevent human trafficking or support (potential) victims. The Western Balkan states are impacted in two ways: On the one hand, many of their residents migrate to the European Union (EU), while on the other, people from third countries pass through the region with the aim of entering the EU.
The refugees are also at risk of exploitation and human trafficking because their lack of financial resources often means they are indebted to smugglers, who in turn take advantage of this situation. Figures show that up to 15 per cent of displaced persons in the region fall victim to human trafficking, but only very few of them are actually identified as victims.
The underlying conditions enabling government and civil society to prevent human trafficking and support its victims have been improved.
The project advises the states and civil societies in the Western Balkans about how to establish the underlying conditions to improve the situation for the victims of human trafficking. The goal is to make those affected more resistant to human trafficking and better identify and protect (potential) victims, for example by means of education and training and professional advisory services in the area of mental health. The cooperation and coordination between government and civil society, as well as between local and central government authorities, will also be increased.
The project target groups are firstly displaced persons in the Western Balkan region and secondly those groups from the Western Balkans who are particularly at risk of being trafficked, for example, members of the Roma minority.
The project is concentrating on four fields of action:
- Making at-risk groups more resistant to the risks of human trafficking.
- Better identifying (potential) victims of human trafficking.
- Improving the coordination and cooperation between different institutions.
- Offering education and training as well as advisory services in the area of psycho-social support and mental health tailored to the requirements of the target group.