STORY: Albanians prime target for human trafficking and exploitation

Over the last five years the number of Albanians trafficked to the UK has been rising.

Now, latest figures are suggesting Albanians are targeted more than any other ethnic group for human trafficking.

In February 2017 there were 48 Albanians referred to the Salvation Army, amongst 207 victims with different ethnicities.

The second most victimised ethnic group was Vietnamese, with a recorded amount of 29 people referred to the charity.

To view the statistics, click on the link below:

Women also seem to be targeted more by human traffickers as 64% of those who were referred to the Salvation Army in February were female.

In a women’s refuge in southern Albania, a girl revealed to the BBC that she was forced to sleep with several men a day.

“Seya” was trafficked from Albania when she was 14. She fled from a violent family home, and was then sold into a trafficking ring by a man she thought was her boyfriend.

She told the BBC she was “terrified”.

Unfortunately “Seya” isn’t the only girl who has been victimised after escaping from a violent home. In fact, most of the women and girls who are trafficked from Albania report fleeing forced marriages and domestic violence.

According to the Home Office in Albania, domestic violence is a “serious and widespread problem”.

One of their documents from last year stated that in a survey it was shown “some 53 percent of women had experienced domestic violence within the last 12 months”.

Home Office said it is not only the women’s partners who are violent towards them but also parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, and other relatives.

Associate director of Hull’s WISE (Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation) Professor Gary Craig also claims women in Albania have very “little opportunity for paid work”, which is why they are attracted to moving abroad to try to earn a decent income.

The professor of social justice says many of the women are lured into the UK by criminals who promise them jobs, such as work in a hotel or a café. However, they often end up being trafficked and exploited.

He explains: “It is reasonably easy for women to be trafficked into the UK via Italy as they are then in the EU. The route across the Adriatic is relatively short and very well-used by criminal gangs. The cost of getting women to the UK may be relatively low.

“There has been a huge growth in criminality in Albania and indeed it has become for some sections of society, more or less a way of life as the institutions of law and legal enforcement are weak. There is a very large network of gangs able to manage the trafficking nexus.”

A human trafficker who is serving a 15-year sentence in Albania said that there was a time when “everyone” was doing it.

Prisoner Fatos Kapplani is being held at a high security prison for trafficking children to Greece and forcing them to work as prostitutes and beggars. While he was carrying out the criminal acts, he had a wife and children.

When he was asked in an interview with the BBC what made him do it, he said: “It was a time that everyone was doing that kind of thing.

“It’s terrible,” he added, “What if that were my child and someone did that to them. It’s very terrible.”

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