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2022 Assembly

 

Imelda Poole interviewed by EuroNews Albania, discussing Human Trafficking in Albania amidst UK Migrant Crisis

 

The Euronews program Inside Albania hosted a feature last week focusing on the issue of Human Trafficking, specifically between Albania and the UK.

‘Asylum Hotels’

Host Alice Taylor addressed a recent incident in the UK, where children in the care of the Home Office have gone missing from their temporary accommodation in hotels while waiting for their asylum claims to be assessed.

It was recounted that 136 children vanished from a hotel in Brighton, and yet his hotel has since been brought back into use by the Home Office, even while some of those previous children remained missing.

Tim Loughton, MP for the constituency where this took place, stated that the children are largely “older teenagers” and “free to abscond if they choose to”, however upon being asked by the host what had been done to find the missing children, he could not provide details of actions that had been taken.

Patricia Burr, The CEO of ECPAT, a UK NGO, was interviewed by the program and rebutted the implications of Tim Loughton’s words.

She emphasised that even where children appear to have left by their own volition, this should not be taken at face value and it should not be assumed that those children are any less at risk, since traffickers often use tactics of persuasion and manipulation to acquire victims.

ECPAT holds that UK legislation such as the Children’s Act 1989 give the government a responsibility to protect and care for any children who arrive in the UK, even if they are ultimately to be returned to their country of origin, and that the Home Office should connect them to social services who can make provisions in the best interests of the children.

ECPAT is in the process of taking legal action against UK authorities over their failure to meet the basic needs of children in these circumstances.

The majority of the children in question are Albanian, and so Alice Taylor next welcomed Sister Imelda Poole, IBVM, president of NGO Mary Ward Loreto and founding member of RENATE, to share a perspective on this issue from Albania.

Sr. Imelda emphasised that in Albania there is no single anti-trafficking law, but that legal advocates for trafficked persons have to draw upon several different pieces of legislation in order to assert the rights of these individuals.

She also noted that there was a lack of facilities to provide temporary accommodation to those returned to Albania from the UK, noting that on one day when UK lawyers inquired about the provisions available, there were only 12 places free in shelters.

Sr. Imelda explained the need for trauma-informed care for returnees, which involves provision of a safe space to understand their own experience, tell their truth and begin to process and recover their own agency.

This was described as a “painful journey” that could take “over a year” for many trafficked persons.

Mary Ward Loreto has been informed of many trafficked persons finding themselves homeless because government bodies and local care authorities are unable to define their complex circumstances as being victims of trafficking under UK law, which would otherwise afford them protections that they sorely need.