Another saved soul……

UMCOR anti-trafficking activities

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 


‘Anahit’ was living in one of the small towns of Armenia. She had no parents, only a sister and a brother who left for Russia in the search of work. The difficult social-economic conditions pushed ‘Anahit’ to look for a job as well. She was persuaded by “friends” to go to the Dubai with the promise of a better life and a well-paid job. After going to Dubai to work as a housemaid, 'Anahit' was trapped against her will and forced into prostitution. She stayed there for a year, but as a result of Dubai police investigative operations on trafficking cases, the place where ‘Anahit’ and other victims had been hidden was assaulted. As a result of the operation many victims have been saved and deported to their home countries.

This was the case that ‘Anahit’ returned to Armenia. She was very sick and depressed, with symptoms of severe anemia. ‘Anahit’ was in a desperate situation; she couldn’t even move and didn’t want to communicate with people. The only bread winner in the family was ‘Anahit’s’ sister, who was unable to pay for the treatment.

After receiving information about ‘Anahit’s’ case, the UMCOR staff visited her, talked with ‘Anahit’ and her sister, and presented all the package of assistance being provided in the shelter. ‘Anahit’’ has passed the medical examination in the Hematological center where she was diagnosed a severe form of iron deficiency anemia. Under the observation of the doctors ‘Anahit’ was receiving treatment for about two months. While staying at the shelter, the psychologists have been working with her and she was receiving a nourishing diet.

All attempts to support and assist the victim eventually led to ‘Anahit’s’ recovery, she has returned to life, started to make plans for the future. Now she is attending the manicure courses and is one of the best students.