Tirana, March 25, 2021 - The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) in cooperation with the National Centre for Missing Children in Albania and CRCA/ECPAT Albania organized the Round-table "Can Albania establish the AMBER Alert System?".
Given the ever-increasing number of cases of child sexual exploitation, the high number of children at risk of trafficking, children leaving home, and the growing number of missing children, the Global Missing Children Network (GMCN) in cooperation with the National Centre for Missing Children in Albania, focused on one of the problems they face every day in their work, the system in signaling missing children.
Albania has been suffering from the phenomenon of missing children for years, while the system that helps to find them, or even signal their whereabouts, has been one of the main requirements of CRCA / ECPAT Albania. According to the data of the National Police Authority, every three days a child goes missing, approximately 120 to 150 children a year. Most of them are found within few hours of going missing.
Main speakers of the workshop were: USA Deputy-Ambassador, Deputy-minister of Health and Social Protection, Deputy-General Director of the National Police Authority, Director of the Global Missing Children Network, Deputy President of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, etc.
The online discussions focused on the issue of children and the help that Amber alert can provide. Albania continues to rank among the most at-risk countries in Europe, due to the lack of measures to protect missing, exploited and sexually abused children.
In her presentation, the USA Deputy Ambassador Mrs. Leyla Moses-Ones, underlining the importance of this system and the great help it gives in the search for missing children, stressed: “I applaud your dedication to this issue. To keeping children safe. The U.S. Embassy is pleased to support you in this effort, and we are ready to support you further if you decide to implement an emergency alert system."
While the Deputy Minister of Health, Albert Nikolla, after getting acquainted with the reality of missing children in the world and Albania, stressed that: “This is a completely new culture not only for Albanian institutions but also for our society. However, we must embrace this culture of finding children, as long as this system only helps them.”
In her presentation, the Director of the Global Network of Missing Children - ICMEC, Mrs. Felicity Sackville Northcott, gave a detailed overview of the network and its function. "For 20 years, ICMEC has been a leader in identifying gaps in the global community's ability to protect children from abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation, and gathering the expertise, people and resources needed to fill those gaps."
She pointed out that worldwide, there are about 1 million missing children, and this number is very worrying for everyone. "But the Amber Alert system creates the link between law enforcement agencies, police experts and national centers for missing children, in all European countries, to identify, find and rescue missing children anywhere in Europe," Northcott said. It brought a detailed overview of the entire Amber Alert system and how it works.
On the other hand, Deputy General Director of the National Police Authority, Albert Dervishi, underlined the fact that “Albania is a country that is not represented with a large number of missing children, but nevertheless the State Police, and the chain that connects our work in this phenomenon, is ready to put in place a system so much help for missing children and their families.”
The Director of CRCA / ECPAT Albania, Altin Hazizaj, expressed his concern about the urgent need to equip Albania with the Amber Alert system. "Children who are considered missing and who have not yet returned to their homes, are the daily commitment of CRCA / ECPAT Albania and the increasing number of sexual exploitation of children, the high number of children at risk of trafficking, children away from home, as well as the growing number of missing children, is an alarm bell for our country. "Albania urgently needs to change the actions and search protocols of missing children in our work and the State Police to protect them."
CRCA/ECPAT Albania is a member of AMBER alert Europe, for over a year now. For the last 5 years she has been demanding the implementation of one of the largest and most successful search and rescue platforms for missing children in Europe.
The Amber alert is issued whenever it is believed that a missing child is at risk of life or sexual exploitation. Today, AMBER Alert is currently used by 32 countries in Europe and the world. As of December 2020, over 1,030 children have been found assisted by this system.
For more information, contact:
National Centre for Missing Children in Albania
CRCA / ECPAT Albania,