How a Campaign Helped Unaccompanied Refugee Children Get Out of Exploitation Circuits

The minor boy from Afghanistan had been found alone in Greece outside the refugee camp on the island of Lesvos where he lived. Some had approached him and persuaded him that in order not to be deported he would have to hire a lawyer immediately. He explained to them that he had no money at all, but they told him not to worry that there was a solution. He could sell one of his instruments. He was thinking about it very seriously. Until a video appeared on his cell phone on social media.

In this video there is another minor boy who has made a correspondingly dangerous journey, narrating in their own language his own adventure. “He listened to my story, he seemed to care. He brought me food and gifts. But later he met me and other friends and they forced me to do things I did not want, for money. They took advantage of me. Many times.” The boy could be heard saying in the video. He then explained that when he tried to stop, he was threatened with extradition and deportation. But he contacted a legitimate organization and they protected him. The video ended with the data of NGO organizations that can help someone in a correspondingly difficult case.

The underage boy from Afghanistan became discouraged. He wrote down the number and called at the same time. At the other end of the line, they explained to him that what they had offered him, to sell his organs, was illegal, how he was entitled to legal aid without money. He was one of 110,100 minors targeted by this video. A campaign of the non-governmental organization “stop the trafficking” in order to prevent similar stories of Human trafficking in the most vulnerable groups – the unaccompanied minor refugees.

In its report, the research team explains that in order to reach the most effective way of prevention, they collaborated with large NGOs active in Greece and analyzed in depth the data on the prevailing situation: They concluded that the victims are children and young people (13-21 ) years, most boys — because they are the ones who travel most often alone — follow specific refugee routes and have a cell phone with them. Through this and the social media — or livelihoods around the camps — members of circuits try to gain their trust by promising friendship and support in the first place.

Minors, who are in great need of someone to take care of them, very often fall into the trap. They are usually offered a job or promised some kind of help without any compensation. But quickly the dream becomes a nightmare. These children, who are alone in a foreign country, are victims of violence, both sexual and labor exploitation. Very often they withhold their own salary or do not give it at all. While there are confirmed cases of minors who fall victim to trafficking in human organs.

Even if they try to get out of the circuit, it is almost impossible. are threatened with imprisonment and deportation and feel trapped.

With these data, the research team launched an initiative that would target precisely these vulnerable groups in order to protect, prevent and prevent these crimes. They collaborated with Meta (the company of Facebook and Instagram) and located the accounts of these children who are in the most dangerous areas – on the coasts of Turkey and Greece. So the single-minute video of a boy telling a story in their own language began to appear on their cell phones as an advertisement. When it was over, they had the opportunity to click and be given more information so they could ask for help.

The successful campaign

The campaign ran through 2021 and in the months since the video reached 110,100 recipients, partner NGOs have seen a huge increase in the number of people calling for help. Some asked about asylum, others sought shelter or access to basic necessities, mainly food. Many sought clarification or direct assistance in relation to the risk of being sexually exploited or exploited (mainly in agricultural work). There were also many who mentioned the trafficking of human organs.

In its report, the research team notes that this vulnerable group of juvenile refugees, even if they do not have direct personal experience, now knows very well that it exists as a choice and what they are seriously thinking about.

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