Prevention, Reintegration and Capacity Building
Trafficking in human beings (THB) is a multi-dimensional issue. It is a crime that deprives people of their basic rights and freedom, increases global health risks, fuels growing networks of organized crime, and is an obstacle to development. The impacts of human trafficking on the individual, family and society are devastating. Victims may suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, and threats against themselves and their families. Human trafficking undermines the health, safety, and security of nations and has long-term implications for all of society. The proliferation of trafficking in Armenia has been driven by a combination of factors: man made and natural disasters such as war and earthquake; transitional processes that shook social and economic conditions creating an increase in unemployment and poverty; porous borders; and weak legislative protection and legal processes.
Through initiatives by the Republic of Armenia and international actors an effective counter trafficking policy has been developed, legislative changes have been introduced, and many activities have been implemented.The Government of Armenia (GoA) has ratified relevant international counter trafficking instruments, including the UN Palermo Convention and Protocol, and the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on Actions Against Trafficking in Human Beings. The GoA has introduced important changes in its own legislation, such as strengthening concepts of THB as they relate to criminal legislation and creating better defined criminal sanctions.
In efforts to comply with minimum international standards, the GoA cooperated in a joint UMCOR/United Nations Development Program (UNDP) program that started in 2004. Under this program, UMCOR developed many important components to prevent trafficking: specialized information materials, seminars, awareness campaigns, radio and TV information programs, a hotline, a victims’ shelter and drop-in center. Effective cooperation has been established with relevant state partners, including border guards, police, the Prosecutor General’s Office, social, health and labor authorities on national and local levels, as well as NGOs and international agencies. Victims of trafficking (VoTs), both men and women, have received various packages of assistance including shelter, legal consulting and representation in court; individual and group psychological therapies; medical assistance including hospitalization; and reintegration activities such as vocational skills training, job placement and financial assistance.
A safe, confidential shelter of UMCOR is providing medical, psychological, employment and legal counseling, as well as reintegration services, for victims rescued from trafficking. It can house eight to ten survivors. Victims stay in the shelter depending on the psychological and physical recovery they need.
In 2010, UMCOR was approached by the GoA to develop a joint model for a national shelter for VoTs with financial support from the GoA. This collaboration and the state financial support covers expenses connected with the shelter premise rent and continued in 2012 as well.
UMCOR also provides project beneficiaries vocational skills trainings and covers their living expenses until they would be able to earn money themselves. Reintegration services also include employment counseling, which refers victims to exsting resources such as governmental programs or projects of local and international NGOs for employment or vocational training. UMCOR staff conducts trainings on health related issues (Prevention of HIV/AIDS and STIs; reproductive health, etc.).
UMCOR maintained the toll-free hotline to prevent human trafficking and to assist VoTs by providing a variety of information to clients including advice about laws and rights of migrants in the destination country, how to access assistance in the destination country, and refer clients to available assistance for health, employment, shelter, medical and legal aid issues.
UMCOR anti-trafficking hotline
Government of Armenia, United Nations Development Programme
Comprehensive Action Against Trafficking Project: Prevention, Reintegration and Capacity Building
Project Implementation Period: December 2006 - November 2008
Donor: Norwegian Government
The aim of this two-year project was to prevent trafficking in human beings, reintegrate victims of human trafficking, and strengthen the national capacity to adequately address the serious human rights issue of human trafficking. The project had three components; 1) prevention of human trafficking through awareness-raising, through facilitating the provision of employment opportunities to vulnerable people, and through empowerment of young people to meet requirements of labour market; 2) societal reintegration of victims of trafficking through provision of vocational skills training; and 3) capacity development of national duty-bearers in identifying victims of trafficking and addressing their needs.
Under the first component, five core activities were undertaken in order to prevent people from falling prey to human traffickers, which were: a) carrying out a survey aiming to identify gaps and determine best areas and methods of intervention for awareness raising on human trafficking; b) educating women, men and children about the risks through operation of hotline; c) educating women, men and children about the risks through awareness raising; d) establishing referral mechanisms to governmental and non-governmental programmes aiming to provide employment or job trainings to vulnerable people; and e) providing at-risk youth groups with opportunities of empowerment to meet the requirements of the national labour market.
Under the second component the Project victims of trafficking were assisted by a) conducting a comprehensive and participatory assessment of victims assistance provided through shelter services in Armenia, b) providing direct assistance to victims at shelter and contributing to the joint national efforts aiming at nationalizing victims’ assistance provided through shelters and at ensuring the involvement of the Government of Armenia in such provision, and c) providing victims of trafficking with vocational skills training to increase their opportunities in finding a job.
Under the third component, one activity in terms of capacity building was carried out; a) training of trainers of government officials at health, social and employment agencies.
UMCOR continued to maintain the hot line to prevent trafficking and to help refer victims to agencies and opportunities for assistance. As part of this sub-output, UMCOR used public service announcements, local media outlets, advertisements and printed materials to inform potential victims of trafficking and those who already have been trafficked. The messages were more focused on safe migration and less on trafficking – changing fearful negative messages into positive and empowering ones. In addition to large nation-wide campaigns, UMCOR partnered with local NGOs "Democracy Today" to conduct small-scale awareness projects. Alongside general information related to trafficking in human beings and safe migration, UMCOR as part of this sub-output provided beneficiaries with information about labour opportunities in Armenia.
In relation to direct assistance to victims, as part of this sub-output, maximum security and comfort was provided to victims of trafficking in the UMCOR-run Rehabilitation Center (shelter) and Drop-in center. UMCOR continued its support of victims of trafficking (VoTs) being assisted through UMCOR’s project work because re-integration of VoTs is a process that needs long-term support and follow-up. UMCOR also supported newly identified VoTs. Moreover, the victims of trafficking had access to vocational skills trainings and consequently had more opportunities to find a job. Being employed and socially included as well as increased self-esteem would prevent VoTs from being re-trafficked.