Skopje – The Regional Conference: “Successful Together! Regional Insights and Approaches on Preventing and Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings” crowned the implementation of the regional project “Preventing and Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings in the Western Balkans” (PaCT) commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in cooperation with MARRI as a strategic partner.
The objective of the conference was to present project’s achievements and products but also, to inspire constructive discussions about improving the effectiveness of the antitrafficking responses as well as to capture innovative approaches in providing better support to (potential) victims of human trafficking. Apart from MARRI Participants’ delegations, the conference was attended by more than 100 professionals working in the field representing the civil society, international organizations and academia.
In the opening address, the Minister of Interior of North Macedonia Oliver Spasovski, commended the synergy provided within the framework of the project which contributed to close cooperation and coordination between the existing antitrafficking networks in the region, i.e. the Network of Coordinators for Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings managed by MARRI and the Network of Coordinators for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings from Southeast Europe managed by the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), ensuring sustainability and avoiding overlaps in the agendas. “All systemic solutions, amendments to existing or adoption of new laws in this sphere, guidelines for actions and analyzes for overcoming given situations have been passed through the filter of the Antitrafficking Commission, therefore the Government always provides maximum support for its activities. At the same time, the activities of the Commission are modern and innovative, because they follow the standards of action from the European Union Member States and provide specific guidelines for the institutions and non-governmental organizations in order to be properly translated into the domestic legislation.” said Minister Spasovski. He thanked GIZ and MARRI for their vision in the conception of the PaCT project and for the commitment in its implementation.
Welcoming remarks delivered also the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of North Macedonia Jovanka Trencevska, Deputy Ambassador of Federal Republic of Germany to North Macedonia Otto Graf, GIZ Country Director in North Macedonia David Oberhuber, and MARRI RC Director Sashko Kocev. Director Kocev stressed that “In the era of rapid change and uncertainty, only by working together we can find innovative solutions to this challenge. This is a chance to learn from one another, to build relationships, and to collaborate on ways to create positive change“. He took the opportunity to thank GIZ for the support provided to the MARRI Regional Centre, particularly in reaching one of the main goals in becoming a Regional Knowledge Hub. With significant support from the PaCT project, MARRI RC increased the technical and human capacities and succeed to develop new Module in the migration statistics database WB-MIDEX, dedicated to human trafficking, he added.
The working part of the conference was designed as panel discussions where regional and international experts exchanged views about the operational realities of the practitioners and the possibilities for closing the gap between the theory and practice. On the margins of the conference, in a “Partner Exchange” exhibition, the project partners exchanged experiences and ideas for further actions.
In the 4 years of implementation, the project incorporated all elements of a multidisciplinary approach in which representatives from the police, social and health services, local government, non-governmental and international organizations, all of which had significant role in improving the identification of victims, improving the social services and the provision of psycho-social support. It also raised awareness about human trafficking on local and regional level, supported MARRI Participants’ Referral Mechanisms (NRMs), and established mobile identification teams. MARRI played important role throughout the project’s four lines of action – Prevention, Protection, Partnerships and Support Services and will continue to support Western Balkans authorities on this important topic.
The 8th PaCT Steering Group Meeting took place on 31 May 2023. The meeting was dedicated to discussions about the migration flows and their impact on the Western Balkans during 2015/16 and 2022/23 as well as the latest migration trends in the Western Balkans. It also provided an opportunity to discuss the PaCT’s continuation within the upcoming EU IPA III project with an active involvement of the MARRI Anti-Trafficking Coordinators.