Improving Victim Assistance
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
Improving Victim Assistance and Prevention in Armenia
Project Implementation Period: September 01, 2009 - February 28, 2011.
Donor: US Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat trafficking in Persons (GTIP)
The overall goal of the project was to improve provision of sustained assistance to victims of TIP and prevent future cases in Armenia.
- To improve identification and reintegration assistance for victims of TIP.
- To raise public awareness about trafficking in persons.
- One 2-day training for a total of 10 NGO representatives on how to identify victims of TIP and people at risk for being trafficked.
- Conference held on best practices for service provision and referral network expansion with anti-trafficking NGO representatives from countries through which and to which Armenian victims of TIP are trafficked.
- Number of assisted repatriated victims with reintegration through provision of medical care, psychosocial counseling, legal consultation, monthly stipends and vocational training courses.
- Approximately 20 victims of TIP identified and referred for assistance.
- Training of 15 caregivers who regularly work with victims of TIP on the needs of victims, as well as how to recognize their own needs.
- 15 communities throughout Armenia hold community meetings with the aim of preventing future cases of TIP by targeting victim populations.
- Public service announcements (PSAs) aired on major television channels and newspaper advertisements that circulated throughout Armenia.
- Awareness meetings arranged in up to 20 communities for vulnerable groups.