IOM Raises Awareness on Child Begging Among Football Fans

1 June 2012

Marking Child Protection Day, IOM launches its new awareness campaign against trafficking in children for forced begging today, mainly focusing on football fans who will visit Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Lviv for the EURO 2012 Football Championship. Together with state institutions responsible for child protection in the four cities hosting EURO 2012, as well as Ukrainian NGOs, IOM aims to refute belief that giving money to begging children will support their livelihoods. The campaign is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

In the framework of the initiative, the Child Social Services in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv, the Criminal Police for Child Affairs in Kyiv and Kharkiv, and the NGOs Donetsk Regional League of Business and Professional Women, Road to Life (Kharki?v) and Women?s Perspectives (Lviv) will respond to calls reporting child begging.

The campaign is aimed to communicate the important message ?Your money will not help begging children. It will only help those who force them to beg.? Participants of the initiative are calling to report the cases of child begging to social services that will provide assistance to children.

?Unfortunately, child begging is rarely seen as what it is ? a form of human trafficking,? says IOM Ukraine?s Chief of Mission Manfred Profazi.  ?IOM and its partners believe that there is a risk that a number of children will be trafficked to the football sites and forced to beg counting on Ukrainian and foreign fans? good-heartedness and generosity. We want to make people understand that ? this sympathy is what actually keeps those kids on the street in Ukraine as well as in other European countries.?

Children from socially disadvantaged families and those in state custody continue to be highly at-risk of being trafficked and exploited inside Ukraine for begging, commercial sex, and production of pornography. From January 2000 till the end of March 2012, over 8,300 victims of trafficking received assistance through the IOM Mission in Ukraine. Out of them, 533 persons, or almost 8 per cent have been trafficked as minors (under 18 years of age). Eighteen per cent of underage trafficking survivors were exploited in forced begging. Most children were forced to beg in Ukraine (70%) and in the Russian Federation (27%), either sold or handed over to traffickers by their own parents/guardians.

Through IOM?s Reintegration Programme children receive medical, psychological, educational, legal, financial and other assistance, based on their individual needs and guided by the overall purpose of reinstating them in their rights, protecting them from re-trafficking, and helping them find a vision for a future after their traumatizing experience.

For further information please contact IOM Ukraine Communications Officer Ms. Varvara Zhluktenko (568 50 15, 067 447 97 92, vzhluktenko@iom.int)

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