Tirana, May 17, 2019 – Every year 120 children are missing from their families in Albania. Every day a child considers leaving or has already runway from home. These figures are an alarm bells, not just for the parents but above all for the public institutions and our society.
The National Centre for Missing Children in Albania, a joint service of CRCA/ECPAT Albania and the National Helpline for Missing Children in Albania (ALO 116-000), under the motto "Don’t Forget us" together with parents, activists and partner organizations created a “human chain” today in front of the offices of the Albanian Government to raise awareness of the risks children and young people face in Albania.
Still as of today 12 children are missing and it is not known where they are. Their families wait their children to return home one day. The issue of missing children is not just a complex one but a problem to which no state is immune! In the last 3 years, according to National Police data, 365 children went missing, out of which 258 girls and 107 boys. While 353 of them have been found, 12 of them are still missing.
The National Helpline for Missing Children in Albania (ALO 116-000) reports that every day, a child intends to or runways from home. Some of the children are kidnapped by their most trusted people, a family member or a parent, while others run away from their families because of neglect, discrimination, violence or abuse. All these children are at risk of criminal groups or sexual predators.
During the last 3 years, according to National Police reports, the number of trafficked children is 50, out of which 34 are girls and 16 boys. CRCA/ECPAT Albania and ALO 116000, recall the still unresolved cases of children who are missing in their families: Bleona Mata, Marteo Bejaj, Juliana Cela, Isa and Mirjeta Matmuja. They are still missing! Only two months ago, the National Center for Missing Children in Albania in collaboration with the Global Missing Children Network, the Missing Persons Center in Britain resumed searches for Bleona Mata, the girl-child lost 9 years ago in the Village of Zapod in Kukes. Thanks to the great support of GMCN we shared for the first time a progressive image of what Bleona Mata might look like at the age of 16.
"This human chain is held in front of the Government and Parliament to ask them publicly not to forget missing children! Children in Albania continue to be at risk because of public insecurity, trafficking, abuse and kidnapping by sexual predators! The Government and the Parliament must urgently approve proposed changes to the Criminal Code on child protection."- said Altin Hazizaj, Director of CRCA/ECPAT Albania.
The National Centre for Missing Children in Albania asked publicly all law enforcement agencies to reopen every unresolved case of missing children. Every year, more than 850,000 children in the world are reported missing. May 17 marks the International Day of Child Counselling Lines, while 25 May marks the International Day for Missing Children.