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EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator visits Belfast

Ursula O'Hare, Acting Director, Law Centre (NI), and Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator

Law Centre (NI) was delighted to welcome Myria Vassiliadou, the EU Coordinator on Trafficking, in Northern Ireland for the first time on 7 and 8 October.

The visit was hostd jointly by the Law Centre and Department of Justice NI, as part of our ongoing work against human trafficking and slavery.

Dr Vassiliadou attended a meeting of civil society organisations from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, at the Law Centre's Belfast office in the evening of 7 October. Non governmental organisations (NGOs) working on human trafficking North and South of the border shared ideas and experience of working to combat trafficking.

In 2013, In 2013, 41 potential victims of trafficking were identified in Northern Ireland*. The Law Centre provides legal support to people who have been trafficked through its immigration advice line and representation service.

Ursula O'Hare, Acting Director of Law Centre (NI) said: 'Our experience of working with victims of human trafficking highlights the importance of the right support at the right time. This meeting between the EU Coordinator and North/South NGOs is a great opportunity to share ideas and innovations so that those who have been caught in the trafficking net can effectively be supported to recover and hopefully move on to a new stage in their lives.'

Dr Vassiliadou added: ‘I am delighted to have had the chance to meet local NGOs and hear first-hand about the good work that is being done here. I will take your concerns back to Brussels. We must address demand that fosters all forms of exploitation and follow the money. We have no time to waste and we must do it together. Victims should be at the heart of all our efforts.’

On Wednesday 8 October, the Law Centre and DoJ hosted an event at Stormont which brought together government agencies and NGOs to discuss legal and policy aspects of combating trafficking and offering protection for victims.

* Statistics from National Crime Agency - United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre - National Referral Mechanism Statistics 2013:

www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/139-national-referral-mechanism-statistics-2013/file

[statistics for Northern Ireland are on pages 12 and 13]

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