23 December 2020

“Early marriage is not trafficking. In our town, girls enter arranged marriages with older men, based upon family matchmaking agreements. Today, I was surprised to learn that this form of marriage is called trafficking,” says K.K., a high school student in Peshkopi.

UNICEF Albania has launched an awareness and information campaign against human trafficking in Diber and beyond, in Shkodër, Kukës, and Tirana. This campaign was inspired, and is targeted based on research conducted, by UNICEF Albania, shedding light for the first time on the level of knowledge, behaviour and practices of Albanian youth towards human trafficking in these four regions of the country. The research also attempted to identify the communication channels most commonly used by Albanian youths to learn more about social issues, including trafficking.

In December, UNICEF, in cooperation with MDA, hosted seven sessions with 130 participants in the four regions. Dozens of youngsters, parents, teachers, psychologists, and representatives of Child Protection Units (CPUs) and of Education Departments attended the meetings where they engaged in discussions on the various forms of human trafficking and the importance of referral and reporting to the responsible institutions.

A.B., a student from the Hillary Clinton Elementary School in Kamëz, said that this issue was not referred to as trafficking if it was carried out by parents or other family members out of economic need. The thirteen-year-old believes that working to help one’s family does not equate to being trafficked.

An officer with Paskuqan CPU said that in her line of work she encounters children forced by their own family members into begging because of poverty.

This awareness and information campaign will continue until June 2021, with the objective of raising awareness and reaching as many youths as possible, and changing the course of their actions and behaviour towards Human Trafficking.