17 February 2012
The Swiss Confederation continues its support to preventing human trafficking through social work and strengthening communities in Ukraine.
According to Guido Beltrani, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Ukraine, the project, implemented by the International Organization for Migration in partnership with the NGOs Child Well-Being Fund of Ukraine and the Western Ukrainian Resource Centre since 2009, will continue for three more years.
At a conference, summarizing the achievements of the first three years of the project, Mr. Beltrani underlined that ?the Swiss Confederation supports Ukraine in minimizing migration-related challenges, as Ukraine is a source, transit and increasingly a destination country for trafficking in human beings.?
According to IOM?s estimates, over 120,000 Ukrainian women, men and children fell victim to human trafficking since 1991.
The project ?Preventing Human Trafficking through Social Work and Community Mobilization? is funded by the Swiss Confederation and implemented in four regions of Ukraine. Eight rural communities characterized by lack of economic opportunities and high levels of labour migration, as well as 37 pilot schools in Lviv, Donetsk, Ivano-Frankivsk oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea are involved in the project activities.
?People residing in small towns and rural areas often do not have access to reliable information about risks of human trafficking and ways to protect themselves. Low living standards, absence of jobs and economic stalemate push people to accept seemingly attractive offers of work abroad, underestimating hidden dangers and frauds posed by traffickers,? says IOM Ukraine?s Counter-Trafficking Programme Coordinator Ruth Krcmar. ?Therefore this project successfully aimed to close two main gaps ? access to information and access to economic opportunities.?
Experts are working with initiative groups to improve living standards and drive communities? development. From improving street lighting to creating ethnographic museums at schools, from establishing rabbit farms to building kindergartens and children?s playgrounds, small projects have empowered participating communities and provided sustainable solutions.
The Human Trafficking Prevention Programme, developed in the framework of the project, has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education and more than 4,000 school students have attended classes based on this Programme. School teachers are trained and provided with innovative materials to incorporate counter-trafficking and safe migration issues in their teaching.
?The novel approach of this important initiative not only teaches students how to make informed choices about their future, but also helps to make them become active citizens of our country?, explains Nina Berezina from the Minsitry of Education on why her Minsitry supports the prevention programme.
The Head of the Chesnyky village council (Ivano-Frankivsk oblast) Oleh Nahirniak says his village has greatly benefited from the project. By re-opening the village?s kindergarten, improving the heating system of the local school and laying a football field, Chesnyky residents have learnt that in addition to outside support they can change a lot on their own. Now Chesnyky villagers are inviting the representatives of IOM and The Swiss Cooperation Office for a friendly football match on the newly laid football field.