Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, and IOM, the International
Organization for Migration, held a webinar on countering trafficking and smuggling
of children in the European Union and the Middle East and North Africa region
The webinar is the first in a series of
joint activities organised by Frontex and IOM to counter people smuggling and trafficking
in the MENA region. It was held
in the run-up to the 14th EU anti-trafficking day on 18 October and
aimed to raise awareness, share experiences and highlight new challenges in the
field of trafficking and smuggling of children, particularly in the context of
guards are often the first law enforcement officers who come in contact with
potential victims of child trafficking or smuggling,” said Frontex Director
why training them to detect possible victims is so important. We need to work
together to enhance the protection of children at risk and to effectively
combat the activities of organised criminal groups,” he added.
During the event, which was attended by child protection experts, law enforcement
experts and policy-makers from the MENA and EU region, as well as
representatives from other regional and international organizations, including
UNICEF, UNODC and UNHCR, Frontex and IOM introduced tools for combatting
child trafficking and smuggling.
As trafficking in persons/human beings often takes place
across borders, law enforcement officers play a crucial role in identifying
potential victims. One of the tools is the training of border guards. Frontex
has been active in this field for years in cooperation with specialized UN
agencies and NGOs, producing handbooks for border guards on how to detect
potential victims and refer for assistance. The Frontex VEGA Handbook: Children at Airports has been translated
into Arabic and released on the occasion of the webinar.
Ideas for opportunities of future cooperation
between countries in the EU and the MENA region as well as international and regional
organizations to fight these crimes and ensure protection was discussed.
“I am pleased to see our member
and partner states from both sides of the Mediterranean coming together to
discuss the crimes of trafficking and smuggling of children during this
challenging time,” said Ms. Carmela Godeau, IOM Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“IOM continues to advocate for
balanced and rights-based approaches to migrant smuggling, human trafficking
and irregular migration in the MENA region and is working with governments on
countering human trafficking.”
Over the past years, the
Mediterranean region witnessed unprecedented levels of migratory movements,
including those originating or transiting from countries of the MENA region
towards the EU. This has increased the risk of migrant and refugee children of
becoming victims of trafficking.
This event was financed and organised in the
framework of the EU4BorderSecurity project, which aims to enhance
dialogue and cooperation in different areas of border management and security
between countries of the EU and those of the Levant and the North of Africa.
smuggling and trafficking of human beings can be interlinked, the two terms
should not be confused. While THB means the recruitment and transportation of a
person for exploitation, smuggling involves the facilitation of irregular entry
of a person to another country for financial, or other material benefit. Exact
definitions can be found in the Frontex VEGA Children Handbook https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/General/VEGA_children/VEGA_Children_Handbook.pdf