Combating HT through awareness raising and victim support
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
Combating human trafficking through awareness raising and victim support
Project implementation period: September 1, 2009 – August 31, 2010
To contribute to the prevention of human trafficking in Armenia through awareness-raising and victims support.
To decrease vulnerability to trafficking through awareness-raising and referrals to professional consultations UMCOR used public service announcements (PSAs) to inform potential victims of trafficking and those who already have been trafficked about the following issues:
• Risks and consequences of trafficking and how to protect oneself, particularly aimed at women and young people to enable them to make informed decisions about migration.
• Safe migration and employment opportunities abroad, including information on relevant laws and policies in countries of destination and the rights of migrants.
• Rights of trafficked persons and existing assistance, protection and social inclusion mechanisms.
PSAs were printed in the local newspapers, broadcast in a form of scrolling line on local TV channels as well as posted at metro carriages. Based on UMCOR’s past experience and the analyses of hotline calls, these sources were established as the most accessible and reliable for the vulnerable population.
To provide assistance to trafficked victims UMCOR provided legal, medical and psychological assistance, social rehabilitation services to the victims of trafficking, as well as vocational skills trainings on a voluntary and confidential basis at the UMCOR shelter and Drop-in Center.
- 20 PSAs per day were broadcast in the form of scrolling line.
- One poster with anti-trafficking content posted in each of 30 metro carriages.
- 1,380 calls received through the hotline.
- 13 victims of trafficking are assisted