This report was submitted by Albania Coordinator, Anxhela Bruci. Arise is excited to have welcomed her to the team.
Jess Templeman, Arise COO, was in Albania between the 24th and 27th of May. During her visit, she participated in the Balkan Freedom Forum - a platform to discuss current human trafficking trends in the Balkan nations. These discussions are especially important at present given the Ukrainian refugee crisis and the collapse of the government in Afghanistan. The forum was well-attended, and joined by several notable figures - such as the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, the US Ambassador to Albania, Yuri Kim, and numerous US senators and congressmen. Also present were civil society organisations and various media outlets. It was convened by the President of Albania, Ilir Meta.
Along with the Albania coordinator, Anxhela Bruci, Jess visited some of the key anti-trafficking institutions in Albania. Some of the visits included the Albanian State Department of Police for Criminal Issues, the State Social Services Directory, the Agency for the Protection of Children’s Rights, and the State’s Shelter for Victims of Human Trafficking.
Arise also organised a networking meeting with key anti-trafficking organisations in Albania. The activity brought together numerous sector leaders to discuss responses to emerging challenges, new threats, and existing trafficking patterns. Opportunities for future collaboration were identified and encouraged, and local strategies for prevention were discussed and shared.
The COVID pandemic (along with the subsequent economic crisis) has made it harder to respond to the needs of victims and survivors of human trafficking in Albania. It has exacerbated the challenges of identification and prevention work. Support services are more expensive, and resources are limited everywhere - heightening the need for support.
Arise is delighted to strengthen its support to Albania through the establishment of a permanent presence locally. Despite the complex challenges on the ground, Arise is hopeful that further collaboration with grassroots actors can help satisfy critical needs and respond effectively to new forms of human trafficking in the region.