ALBANIA:

CAAHT Anti-trafficking Report Reveals Impact in Fight Against Human Trafficking

February 27, 2009

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The publication of the fourth edition of “State of Efforts in Albania to Combat Trafficking in Persons, 2007-2008” in Tirana, has drawn accolades from dignitaries including the U.S. Ambassador, John L. Withers, the Albanian Deputy Minister of the Interior, Iva Zajmi and USAID Mission Director, Roberta Mahoney.

“This report gives a more nuanced and detailed understanding of where and to whom human trafficking occurs,” said Sarah Stephens, Chief of Party of the Albanian Initiative: Coordinated Action Against Human Trafficking, known as the CAAHT project. “Government and civil society will be able to make much better decisions about what kinds of programs and services are needed, and where these efforts should be targeted.”

The report is produced by the Creative Associates International team implementing CAAHT. Made possible with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, CAAHT has over the course of its five years of operation, rallied the efforts and services of Albania’s local and national government authorities and NGOs to raise awareness about the dangers of trafficking. It has also provided grants to NGOs to help prevent trafficking and assist trafficking victims.

“The report is the first time that a comprehensive analysis of this kind – a synthesis of all data gathered from the Anti-trafficking Coalition Shelters – has been made,” said Zajmi, who is Albania’s Deputy Minister of the Interior and National Trafficking Coordinator.

Like earlier reports, this latest edition describes and assesses the range of government, civil society and international programs aimed at eradicating human trafficking.

But the latest edition begins with an important new chapter that analyzes trends in human trafficking based on data collected from the case files of trafficking victims at CAAHT-supported shelters. The new data challenges several commonly held assumptions about the types of people who become victims of trafficking in Albania. For example, 60 percent of victims are recruited by people they know. The report also dispels the notion that victims have low education levels or are illiterate; in fact, more than half of all victims who sought refuge in shelters between August 2007 and July 2008 had completed compulsory education. The finding also suggests that a low level of education may not be a primary factor in the vulnerability of victims.

“Too often, human trafficking in Albania is perceived to be mainly a problem of the Roma and Egyptian minority communities,” Stephens said in remarks made at a news conference to launch the report in Tirana on January 22, 2009.

“But less than 10 percent of the victims in the shelters during the reporting period were from these minority communities,” Stephens said. “Ninety-percent of shelter beneficiaries are from the majority Albanian population.”

Ambassador Withers recognized CAAHT’s work as exemplifying President Barack Obama’s entreaty to “Americans as well as the citizens of the world, to redouble their efforts, to commit their energy, to raise their vision and ideas, so that the joint strength of the people and their government can overcome every obstacle in their path.” CAAHT has been instrumental in gathering government and NGOs to assist those at-risk and victims.

“I suggest that that spirit is the spirit that we all should adopt in bringing together our collective energy, our collective strengths, our collective thinking in combating this terrible crime [of human trafficking],” Withers told an audience of more than 80 representatives of Albanian government agencies, NGOs and the diplomatic corps. “And if we do, Obama’s motto will come true: “Yes, indeed, we can.”

At the core of CAAHT’s success is its capacity to coordinate a broad range of interests including government offices and NGOs offering community-based prevention services as well as sheltering and reintegrating trafficked persons. “Albania is taking action to be a protecting community, and we are very impressed by the efforts and the commitment that are demonstrated by all of you governmental and non-governmental representatives who are gathered in this room today,” Stephens said. “You are the anti-trafficking community of Albania; you are making a difference. And it is our privilege to be able to work with you, and to say it is good what we are doing. But it is not enough. We need to do more. ‘Yes, we can!’”

— Alexandra Pratt with assistance from Sarah Stephens and the CAAHT program team in Tirana, Albania.

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