Unaccompanied Albanian and Vietnamese child asylum seekers who are vulnerable to being trafficked are fleeing persecution and poverty, a report said. These children, are at a great risk of trafficking and modern slavery in Croydon.
According to a research carried out by Ecpat UK and Missing People charities, 31 children have been identified as trafficking victims in Croydon from September 2014 until September 2015. 20 per cent of these children had fled away from their foster homes.
On this note, a new project has been launched recently by Croydon Council and the International Organization for Migration will focus on supporting
Children from Albania and Vietnam are at higher risk of going missing and being trafficked since they are commonly linked to organized criminal gangs operating across the country, said the report.
The council’s new project provides specialist training for the foster families who look after these children. Among the steps made is a series of training sessions aim to increase the confidence and capacity of foster carers or families to look after child victims of trafficking and include specific cultural information on Albania and Vietnam.
Moreover, an online platform has been created for foster carers to access all the project information and resources in one place. Additional support is provided for the children themselves to improve their understanding of foster care and the dangers of leaving care.
According to the report, modern slavery and trafficking in Croydon can involve sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced labor such as work on cannabis farms.
Croydon is home to 390 unaccompanied child asylum seekers, a higher number than any other council except Kent, because it is the location of the UK’s only asylum screening unit, Lunar House.
One of the foster carers who took part in the training program, who cannot be named for protection purposes, said: “I am now aware of potential child trafficking indicators and sensitive to the meaning of young people’s behavior. I feel that now I wouldn’t be so scared to look after a trafficked child.”
Since the program was launched last month, 52 foster carers have attended the training sessions, which will run until September 2018.
Oretha Wofford, Child Trafficking Lead for Croydon Council, said “We are committed to reducing the risk of trafficked children going missing from care in Croydon and are pleased to be working with IOM on this initiative.”
“Trafficked and asylum seeking children are some of most vulnerable children in the UK and they need intensive levels of specialist support to help them recover and rebuild their lives”, she concluded.