Rise in children trafficked to NI

Published Friday, 06 December 2013
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A new project is being launched to provide advice and support for the increased number of young human trafficking victims in Northern Ireland.

Rise in children trafficked to NI
A new project will provide support for young trafficking victims. (© Getty)

Since April 17 children that were brought into the country have been identified as potential victims of sexual or labour exploitation.

Department of Justice figures showed that 14 adults were also trafficked.

This compares to just two children in the previous financial year, they were rescued along with 14 adults.

In response to the problem, the Law Centre (NI) is launching a first of its kind project in the region.

Project worker Fidelma O'Hagan, explained: "Increasing numbers of victims of human trafficking are being identified in Northern Ireland.

"Every year, this includes a small number of children and young people. Children and young people who are trafficked into Northern Ireland face real hurdles in getting the support they need to navigate a complex system and enjoy their legal rights."

The project aims to provide proper guidance and assistance for young victims.

"This new service allows us to provide specialist legal advice and representation to children, young people and other victims of trafficking. We are very grateful to Comic Relief for the support that enables us to provide this specialist, dedicated service," Ms O'Hagan added.

Launching the new project, Patricia Lewsley Mooney, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, added: "While official figures report a relatively small number of trafficked children here, we also know that there may be more children who arrive here and others who go missing within Northern Ireland who are never captured by our recording processes.

"The process that every trafficked child goes through, must seek to protect them when they are facing a very frightening time.

"The Anti-Trafficking Children and Young People Project at the Law Centre (NI) will support this vulnerable and often invisible group of young people.

"It offers skills and expertise to listen to, advise and support trafficked children to help them enjoy the rights they are entitled to through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child."

© UTV News
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