French Financial Aid Helps Bulgaria Launch Initiative on Human TraffickingSociety | January 24, 2012, Tuesday // 14:52| views
The National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and the Embassy of France in Bulgaria held Tuesday a press conference on the occasion of the launching a project titled "Prevention of trafficking in human beings who belong to ethnic groups with a focus on the Roma minority in Bulgaria".
The pilot project is managed by the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and will be implemented in the Varna municipality for a period of two years with the financial support of the Embassy of France in Bulgaria, the Permanent Representation of France to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Vienna, and the Embassy of France in Romania.
During Tuesday's press conference it emerged that traffickers recruit over 2.5 million women and children every year.
According to statistics presented during the discussion, Bulgaria has handed down harsh sentences for human trafficking to 111 offenders over the past few years.
The pilot project is being launched in the Varna municipality because it has been reported as a place of origin of human trafficking victims and also a destination for internal and external human trafficking.
The scheme aims to reduce the number of potential victims of Roma origin, to implement concrete measures to prevent early pregnancy among women of Roma origin, to raise the level of social awareness of practices related to human trafficking and to help reduce the number of abandoned children of Roma origin.
"Our opinion in France is that only a global approach and a coordination between all involved in fighting human trafficking will bring results", said Philippe Autie, French Ambassador to Bulgaria, a host of the press conference.
He explained that the efforts must go to apprehending traffickers, protecting the victims and raising awareness among vulnerable groups of the population.
Commenting on the matter, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov bragged that Bulgaria had achieved its first harsh guilty sentences against the gang of Vratsa-based criminal Yordan Tonov.
In end-December 2011, Tonov and four of his accomplices were handed down prison terms of 10-13 years for human trafficking, drug trafficking and abetting prostitution.
"Bulgarian Roma are among the most vulnerable groups in society. The idea behind creating local commissions is to enable them to place an emphasis on Roma-populated regions. We want to raise social awareness and to provide guarantees against children being exploited as pickpockets by traffickers," the Interior Minister stated.
He concluded by saying that prevention and boosting awareness among vulnerable social groups were the main goals of the project and that its implementation required the concerted effort of all parties involved.
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