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Campaign “STOP Trafficking in Children” is conducted with support of the European Union within the project “Strengthening of the Serbia-EU Civil Society Dialogue” and OAK Foundation. It is aimed at public awareness of the problem of trafficking in children.

The problem of trafficking in human beings afflicts all societies. The differences relate to the way societies fight it. The problem is a complex one and involves the most severe violation of human rights, which is why its suppression requires effective criminal prosecution on one hand and on the other availability of adequate assistance with the potential for rehabilitation and (re)integration of victims. During the past few years we are witnessing a trend of increasing number of Serbian nationals identified as victims of human trafficking, as well as the fact that almost half of all identified victims are children.

Average age of children for whom ASTRA provided assistance is 14.7 years. The children, as well as the adults are most frequently victims of sexual exploitation, forced begging and forced marriages but also labor exploitation. Almost all those children are Serbian nationals. The most serious deficiencies in the response of the society and the state relate to the fact that Republic of Serbia does not allocate any funds from its budget, with the exception of sporadic one-time allocations. Moreover, there is a problem of accommodation of children identified as (potential) victims of trafficking since in the existing anti-trafficking mechanism there is no specialized shelter for children victims or special programs for their (re)integration.

Children are not offered any possibility to continue their lives out of the trafficking chain, which brings back focus to the question of root causes of human trafficking including poverty, social exclusion, family violence and similar phenomena. It is necessary to direct all efforts towards solving these issues. The state, but also the entire society are responsible for the efficiency of fight against trafficking in human beings. The state should pay special attention and deal with eradicating poverty as well as prioritize issues of existential issues and quality of life for children and youth. When it comes to assistance that victims of human trafficking have the right to receive according to the international conventions on combating human trafficking, which our country ratified, it is necessary to operationalize existing mechanisms and create systemic solutions for accommodation of and assistance for children victims of human trafficking. In this regard the role of the civil society is still not sufficiently recognized since the state institutions still only partially utilize available resources of the nongovernmental organizations.

Materials produced for the campaign include TV spot, radio jingle, posters, billboards and various preventive and educational materials will be distributed throughout Serbia in the coming months.

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