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Pilot scheme trains airline and airport crew to better spot human trafficking

Developed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, it’s hoped the project will be rolled out throughout Europe.

IRISH AIRLINE CREW, airport ground staff, port staff and other transport workers are to be offered training to spot victims of trafficking and offer them an escape from pimps and traffickers under a pilot project being developed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland (IMCI).

Under the Stop Traffick project, air crews will be offered a half day training course which will help them to identify women and girls being brought to Ireland for sexually exploitation.

Transportation staff

The Immigrant Council, with the support of the European Commission, have developed this project in a hope that airport and other transportation staff will be better equipped to identify women and girls being human trafficked into the country.

The Immigrant Council’s recent figures showed that children now account for almost half of all trafficking victims in Ireland.

Last year, 48 people were identified as trafficked in Ireland, of which 23 were children with most being sexually exploited.

Nusha Yonkova, Anti Trafficking Coordinator of the Immigrant Council said:

As a frontline organisation the Immigrant Council has assisted 50 victims of sex-trafficking, all tell a similar story of being tricked into coming to Ireland with promises of a new life only for reality to dawn when they meet their pimp in the arrivals hall at our airports.

Spotting human trafficking

The IMCI said that observant cabin crew, ground staff or customs officers may offer the only chance of escape to these women and children, adding that it’s particularly important as international reports have found that Ireland is weak when it comes to identifying victims.

They added that experience already achieved through training initiatives with the gardaí and with trade unions will be passed on.

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said that Ireland’s airports are the main points of access through which traffickers bring their victims to Ireland.

She said the image of what we “think” human trafficking looks like needs to be challenged. She said:

The image of people arriving in containers or as stowaways simply does not always apply, trafficking victims are more likely to be sitting on our flights and go through our airports like any other passengers.

This is an opportunity to train crews and staff to be alert to human trafficking, and to encourage them to look for signs of nervousness, uncertainty or of someone being controlled either on a flight, a ferry or in a terminal.

She added that the IMCI were looking forward to rolling out the scheme Europe-wide.

Read: Laws against sex buyers need to be introduced now, says Immigrant Council>

Read: Column: Human trafficking and forced prostitution is continuing in Ireland>

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