Published on August 30, 2006,

Category: Organized Crime in Kosovo

London, 30 August (AKI) - Child trafficking in the countries of southeast Europe, particularly in Serbia’s Kosovo province, has been on rise and is reaching worrying proportions, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Wednesday. In a report, Action to Prevent Child Trafficking in South-Eastern Europe, released in London, UNICEF stated that said that many children were smuggled from southeast Europe into west European countries, "to be used in the sex trade, slavery or for begging". It noted that 1.2 million children were trafficked across the world annually, while 246 million kids world-wide were involved in illegal child labour. "We know that child trafficking within Kosovo borders is on rise,” said UNICEF regional director for southeast Europe, Maria Kalavis. “Children are being recruited for certain jobs and forms of exploitation,” she added. After visiting Romania, Moldova, Albania and Kosovo, the countries most frequently named in child trafficking, one of the reports' authors, Mike Dottridge, said that the trafficking could be fought only by “addressing root causes of the problem. The traffickers themselves are very well organized, very flexible and very ruthless, yet the systems that are in place to deal with them are inflexible and unharmonized,” he added. Kalavis told the BBC it was absurd that UNICEF's presence in Kosovo wasn’t felt more strongly, despite the fact that the province, whose majority ethnic Albanians demand independence, has been under United Nations control since 1999. “Kosovo’s priorities have been so far the establishment of the rule of law and the reform of institutions” and we, “as UN agency caring for children want to point out that this area of protection has been neglected”, said Kalavis. Kalavis praised Serbia's efforts in preventing child trafficking. “Serbia is a good example how to prevent child trafficking, because they are eliminating causes which make the children vulnerable,” Kalavis concluded. (Vpr/Aki)

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