Tens of thousands of children attempting to flee to Europe during the last few years have been at great risk of being exposed to child trafficking and exploitation. Closed borders, lack of cross-national coordination, and dire and inhumane living conditions in refugee camps and child-care centers put children at high risk of becoming victims of trafficking, forced labor, human smuggling, criminal activity, and sexual exploitation and abuse. Today, thousands of children making their way toward Europe are in danger of disappearing and becoming untraceable. As countries tighten their borders, children are forced to find other, often more dangerous routes towards Europe, increasing the risks of exploitation from smugglers and traffickers.
Every year, Child 10 gathers and awards ten exceptionally bold individuals from around the world for their everyday struggle for the most vulnerable children in our communities. The aim is to recognize their brave and relentless struggle to protect and prevent child abuse, exploitation, and violations, and to share their stories. On October 18, the European Union’s Anti-Trafficking Day, Child 10 announced the 2020 Child 10 Awardees under the theme ‘Children in the hands of Europe’ for their strong commitment to combating child trafficking. One of the Awardees, Martin Anderson, is the Director of International Programs at RefugePoint, working with resettlement programs in northern Africa. Martin receives the award for his and RefugePoint’s dedicated fight to combat child trafficking on the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea and to support the safe migration of children seeking refuge in Europe.
“Child protection has long been an overlooked or at least an under-resourced component of most responses to refugee situations. RefugePoint has worked for several years to develop a team of highly-qualified child protection experts, to respond to emerging needs, and build systems for effective responses in the future. Most recently, this has included a significant deployment of child protection experts to the countries along the migrant routes from Africa to Europe. These child protection experts help unaccompanied refugee children find lasting solutions and reunite with their families, without having to follow dangerous routes overland and across the Mediterranean.”
Together with the other nine 2020 Awardees, Martin Anderson participated in an award ceremony and high-level summit in Malmö, Sweden, in January 2020. The summit served as the starting point for the joint work that the Child 10 group will undertake to combat child trafficking and sexual exploitation and abuse on migrant routes to Europe.
“Martin Anderson is a driving force of RefugePoint with his broad experience working with refugees. Through his strong commitment to help the most vulnerable children access safe and legal migration paths, Martin and RefugePoint are protecting thousands of minors from undertaking more dangerous migration routes, thereby greatly reducing the risks of child trafficking and abuse,” says Jacob Flärdh, Secretary General of Child 10.
The ten Awardees have each been awarded a grant of $10,000 as well as a support program to strengthen, develop, and create sustainability in their organizations. The Awardees will join forces throughout 2020 in their advocacy and outreach work to draw attention to and prevent the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.