Challenges in the identification and protection of vulnerable individuals and victims of gender-based violence and trafficking in human beings in the context of migration crisis

Mirceva, Stojanka and Rajkovchevski, Rade (2017) Challenges in the identification and protection of vulnerable individuals and victims of gender-based violence and trafficking in human beings in the context of migration crisis. Project Report. MARRI Regional Centre, Skopje, Macedonia.

[thumbnail of Assessment-report.pdf]
Assessment-report.pdf - Published Version

Download (4MB) | Preview


An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced away from home. The lack of peace in the Middle East and North Africa has seriously disturbed European and global security. There are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18 (UNHCR, 2016). In 2017, 13.5 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance within the country. Among those escaping the conflict, the majority have sought refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4.8 million have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria. Meanwhile, about one million have requested asylum in Europe. Germany, with more than 300,000 cumulated applications, and Sweden with 100,000, are the EU’s top receiving countries (Syrian Refugees, 2016). According to a UN Women’s assessment from the beginning of 2016, as a result of protracted conflict, ongoing violence and insecurity, reduced education and livelihood opportunities, whole families are on the move, including increased numbers of women and children (which make up 42 per cent of the total population - women (17%) and children (25%), elderly people, people with disabilities, unaccompanied and separated minors, and other vulnerable groups (UN Women, 2016, p.2-3). Identified as an ultra-sensitive vulnerable groups, the refugee and migrant women and girls face specific challenges and protection risks on their route and within accommodation facilities, including family separation, psychosocial stress and trauma, health complications (for pregnant women in particular), physical harm and injury and risks of exploitation and gender-based violence. The flow of migrants in Europe became more intensively recognized from 2014 to March 2016. The migrants mainly come from Syria (but also from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, Sudan and Eritrea). On their way to the EU, refugees and migrants enter through three primary routes: the Central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy, the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece, Bulgaria, and Cyprus, and the Western Mediterranean route from North Africa to Spain (UNHCR Bureau for Europe, 2017, p.1). The EU Border and coast guard agency recognizes Western Balkan route within the eight main migratory routes into the EU by the land and sea (Frontex, 2017). Consequently, European countries along the routes could be classified as countries of transit or final destination countries. Each country and each route has its own peculiarities. On the European ground, the migrants and refugees face different national approaches and procedures, some of them against principles of the international community and liberal theory. Mixed migration flow in the Balkans has opened many issues related to the risks that vulnerable groups of migrants face on their way to the final destination, the problems and sufferings of migrants, costs of services, their contact with governmental and non-governmental institutions, the local population and the criminal groups. In particular, an emphasis is placed on the response and approaches of governmental institutions and (I)CSOs in relation to upholding and protection of human rights and freedoms, especially related to the right to asylum, freedom of movement and the right to dignity, safety and life, and obtaining humanitarian assistance, protection and other types of services.
In the early phase of the mixed migration flow, refugees/migrants were primarily younger, military-aged males—disproportionately wealthy, educated, and with greater social capital in Europe. The consensus among refugees and experts was that, the rich, naturally “left first because they could,” and are now drawing their less fortunate relatives. This constituency was the first to flee not only because of their greater resources, but because they were particularly exposed to danger in war-torn areas. This did not last long. By early 2015, women, children and the elderly became majorities in the migrant flow. Camps were overloaded with persons with disabilities or illnesses, elderly people and unaccompanied minors. One doctor compared migrant patients “at the beginning” with his current ones: “most of them now don’t even have that basic education; they are ignorant of basic medical signs.”… Coinciding with the shift to poorer, less educated populations was a changing gender and age dynamic. At the time of the EU-Turkey deal, 2/3 of the migrants transiting the Route were women, children, and elderly people. Military-aged men - an obsession of anti-migrant rhetoric - were unquestionably a minority (Mandić, 2017). Protection needs of refugees and migrants are wide-ranging, but women and girls are among those who are particularly at risk of trafficking, violence and exploitation and require a strengthened protection response. Hence, there were very few assessments and researches in MARRI Participants conducted on different aspects of refugee and migration flows. Recently there have been few assessments that emanated from UN organizations, which are concerned with assessments of gender issues in the context of mixed migration flow on the Balkan route. Some of them are: Gender Assessment of the Refugee and Migration Crisis in Serbia and FYR Macedonia (UN WOMEN); Initial assessment report: Protection Risks of Women and Girls in the European Refugee and Migrant Crisis. Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (UNHCR, UNFPA, WRC). This study „Challenges in the identification and the protection of vulnerable individuals and victims of gender-based violence (GBV) and trafficking in human beings (THB) in the context of the mixed migration flows“ was initiated following a Regional Workshop titled: ‘Irregular migration and trafficking in human beings – International standards for protection of migrants at risk of trafficking in human beings with particular focus on women and children along the migration route,’ held in Belgrade on 27 – 28 February, 2017. The Workshop was organized by Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI, and its Participants: Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) under the framework of the SAFERR project. CRS manages a consortium of local and international partners for implementation of SAFERR Project (Shelters and Access for Empowerment and Risk Reduction). MARRI’s Regional Centre in Skopje as Executive Secretariat of the initiative and focal point for consultations, dialogue, trainings, information exchange, capacity building and other activities agreed by the Participants is a contracting authority of the CRS-managed consortium for implementation of research in regards of GBV and anti-trafficking. The study gives an initial overview of the MARRI Participants’ capacities to provide gender sensitive response to the phenomena of THB and GBV in the mixed migration flow. In particular, practices and policies in relation to GBV and THB response in Macedonia, Albania and Serbia were addressed since among MARRI Participants these three are considered mainly affected by refugees/migrants flows. The Report addresses legal framework in relation to THB and GBV responses in other MARRI Participants as well: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo. The focus of the study, besides the identification of persons at risk and protection of the victims/survivors of THB and GBV in the mixed migration flow in conditions determined by the geographical scope, period of observation and data collection, is on the understanding and sensibility for THB and GBV of the main stakeholders. The Report is structured in four chapters, starting with the context of the mixed migration flows and population profile of the current flows, both globally and in the MARRI Participants. Chapter One contains an overview of the Balkan route together with methodological framework. The second chapter covers the legal framework of MARRI Participants in relation to THB and GBV, with particular overview of policies in relation to protection against THB and GBV in current migration crisis supported by relevant statistics. The findings from field data collection are presented in the third chapter and are organized into seven thematic subsections discussing perception and recognition of GBV and THB, national instruments for identification and assistance to victims of GBV and THB and training, coordination and cooperation between the relevant stakeholders, good practices and challenges, and gender-sensitive physical environment on transit/reception sites for refugee/migrants. The last chapter contains conclusions and recommendations. The information provided in the annexes is signposted at relevant points in the text. This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects: Scientific Fields (Frascati) > Social Sciences > Law
Scientific Fields (Frascati) > Social Sciences > Political science
Scientific Fields (Frascati) > Social Sciences > Other social sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Security
Depositing User: Prof. Rade Rajkovchevski
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2020 20:10
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2022 12:11

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item