In 2016 Unitas launched its program to educate every teenager in Serbian schools. We are well on our way to reach that goal and we are getting rave reviews from experts in the region.
The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings “GRETA”, recently visited Serbia and provided positive feedback, noting that the program model is strong and should be expanded elsewhere in the region.
This project is being conducted in partnership with the Serbian Government’s Ministry of Education and Center for Trafficking Victims Protection. The program empowers young people with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and avoid the schemes of human traffickers. It also equips teachers and caregivers to recognize the indicators and interrupt situations where children already being “groomed.”
In addition to educating children in schools, we have educated 4,190 parents, 6273 teachers and faculty, and an additional 110 physical education teachers with a contextualized manual regarding student athletes. And in partnership with the Red Cross Serbia we reached 3,000 children through a workshop and festival.
Eastern European children given
prevention education so far.
In the nation’s capital more than 2,000 children are reported missing each year. Though most are recovered, many are at risk of going missing again due to abuse, neglect or conflicts at home. Homelessness puts them at tremendous risk as research indicates that 1 in 5 homeless children in the U.S. are trafficked. In response, UNITAS will be funding a new local effort to reach 900-1000 children per year identified as “critical missing” and “recovered” through D.C. law enforcement. Our local partner, FAIR Girls, will provide these children with life skills and education to prevent further risk of trafficking and exploitation. And in a newly opened 24/7 drop-in center, young people will be assessed for indicators of sex trafficking and exploitation.
This will help fulfill some of the D.C. Mayor’s objectives in her strategy to assist missing youth. Our local partner, FAIR Girls, works as a part of a larger working group of organizations and agencies in Washington D.C. Together we believe this will be a replicable model for missing children in other major cities across America.
Previously missing children
per year in D.C. to receive
prevention skills and education.
An estimated 60 – 80 survivors of child trafficking will be referred annually by the D.C. Superior Court to our local partner, FAIR Girls. The vast majority of these will be young girls of color from the DC area aged 12 to 17 years old. UNITAS is committed to fund a full suite of case management for these children that will include a 12-week curriculum called “Dare to Thrive,” therapeutic art programming, individual therapy, and a youth-focused survivor support group. A case manager will be involved in referrals, all court hearings, and will manage weekly workshops and drop-in center space. Additionally, 12 trained survivor mentors will assist in program implementation for these new referrals. This program was designed to help facilitate life skills and bonds that will help these children recover and reduce their risk toward further exploitation.
Children per year
UNITAS produced and released our first social impact film, Observers.
Increasing knowledge through film making empowers large numbers of young people and concerned citizens to respond more appropriately to human trafficking. In a 2016 US State Department report on human trafficking, Ambassador Susan Coppedge, tells a story of how a film sparked the escape of a victim and subsequent prosecution of her trafficker. Films, and other forms of media, can expose the hidden tactics of traffickers, change public perception about victims/survivors, and inspire intervention.
Observers is being viewed on national television in Serbia, throughout Eastern European schools, and online elsewhere.
Based on true stories
UNITAS funding for hotlines in Bulgaria and Greece has resulted in 166 tips leading to investigations, the rescue of 16 victims of human trafficking , and the repatriation of dozens of survivors . Before our involvement there was no hotline in Bulgaria, which is considered one of Europe’s most high-risk nations for human trafficking. And in Greece, Unitas enabled prevention education messaging to reach 20,000+ refugees: 1,534 refugees through personal interactions; 6,571 through comic books, and; 13,398 through informational leaflets.
Andre, a husband and father of two young children, is one of 17 Bulgarian men who was promised construction work in the UK only to be trafficked and exploited through forced labor. He was kept in horrific conditions, sleeping on cold wet floors and working 14 hours a day at a car wash. Andre and the others were forced to use an acid-based detergent with no gloves on their hands, which led to severe burning. They were not paid and their IDs were kept and used for financial fraud which made the men afraid to go to the authorities. Eventually, however, some of the men managed to escape and call the police, who referred them to the Bulgarian hotline. The hotline staff were able to ascertained their needs, gain intelligence, and enabled repatriation. Once back in Bulgaria, our local partner, A21, continued to assist them. Andre is now home safe with his family because of your support.
Tiwa, a young Nigerian woman had been promised a job in a restaurant in Turkey, but when she arrived her documents were taken from her and she was locked in a house where she was beaten, faced with constant threats for her life and her family, and forced to sleep with men. After 5 months she managed to escape with the help of a “client.” Tiwa crossed over to Greece, where she was identified as a victim of human trafficking by refugee camp aid workers who contacted the hotline. The hotline staff was able to assist Tiwa by referring her to a residential facility, arranging her transfer and providing for her medical and psychological needs.
rescued so far.
We are proud to have supported the Andrea Bocelli Foundation in 2016. Though not a counter-trafficking organization, their work to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, illness, and social exclusion aligns with the values of UNITAS. And in many ways their work addresses some of the root causes that can lead to human trafficking.