Tens of thousands of children forced to flee towards Europe during the last few years have either been exposed to or are at great risk of being exposed to child trafficking and exploitation. Closed borders, lack of cross-national coordination and the dire and inhumane living conditions in refugee camps and child-care centers put children at particularly high risk of becoming victims of trafficking, forced labor, human smuggling, criminal activity, and sexual exploitation and abuse. Today, thousands of children are in danger of disappearing and becoming untraceable in transit and destination countries towards Europe. As countries tighten their borders, children are forced to find other, often more dangerous routes towards Europe, increasing the risk of exploitation from smugglers and traffickers.
The 2020 Awardees are ten exceptional child rights advocates. Despite hostile environments, threats and a growing racist discourse these extraordinary leaders should function as role-models for all of us. Their strong commitment to prevent children from exploitation and trafficking and to always protect the most vulnerable in our societies transcends beyond their organizations and to all of us. We are very proud to welcome the 2020 awardees to Sweden in January, says Jacob Flärdh, Secretary General Child 10.
Martin Anderson has dedicated his career to improving the lives of refugees, including at-risk refugee children. Under his leadership as the Director of International Programs at RefugePoint, Martin and his organization have developed child protection and resettlement programs in Northern African countries among others to identify refugee children in need of resettlement and other services, helping to ensure they have access to the support programs and lasting solutions they need and, in many cases, are entitled to.
MAEJT Guinea, Guinea
Rouguiatou Diallo and her organization MAEJT Guinea has saved thousands of children from the deadly risks of migrating from Africa to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea by supporting them to stay in their home countries. With her relentless devotion to helping these extremely vulnerable children, her work has reached far beyond her country.
Glauco Iermano and his organization DEDALUS in Napels, Italy, have supported more than 4000 unaccompanied minors over the last ten years. Under the leadership and commitment of Glauco, children and youth are guided towards a path of legality, inclusion and opportunity, protecting them from the risk of being trafficked or exploited. By focusing on the integration of young migrants, Glauco wants to build a society where the ”foreigner” is considered a resource and not a threat.
Fundación Raices, Spain
Lourdes Reyzabal, and her organization Fundación Raices, helps children and youth to gain access to their rights in Spain, focusing in particular on unaccompanied minors. Lourdes is an extremely strong advocate for children, highly dedicated to the struggle against the failed governmental child protection system, seeking to ensure that all children are protected according to their rights.
Family Counselors Association, Turkey
Güngör Cabuk is a founding member of the organization Family Counsellors Association, responsible for training thousands of key professionals working with trafficking of human beings. As one of the leading experts on child trafficking in Turkey, Güngör’s efforts have resulted in a more systematic approach towards trafficking in Turkey, and she loves to spread and share her knowledge and experience to the great benefit of the victims of child trafficking.
Network against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children/ECPAT, Turkey
Ezgi Yaman is a highly committed child protection advocate. Her organization, The NGOs Network Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Turkey/ECPAT Turkey, is focused ontraining children to protect themselves, providing them with crucial knowledge how to identify traffickers and where to get help and find protection from them. Ezgi believes that change can be made through a combination of advocacy, working with government officials and engaging in on-the ground support to the most vulnerable children.
The Home Project, Greece
Sofia Kouvelaki’s strong passion and supportive leadership to create sustainable long-term impact for children involving the local community transcends beyond her work. Her organization, The HOME Project, is a non-profit organization setup at the end of 2016 and consists of people dedicated to protect and support the most vulnerable children, refugee minors arriving in Greece alone, while at the same time challenging the hostile narrative on migrants and refugees.
Defence for Children International, Greece
Nantina Tsekeris is a strong and committed advocate for children’s rights. In her role as the Director of the Organization Defense for Children International Greece, she and her team provide direct legal services and support to children in urgent need. With her strong child-rights perspective, Nantina is a great role model for children’s rights advocates and lawyers all over the world.
Nandi D. Zulu
Action Pro, Sierra Leone
Nandi D. Zulu is the founder and executive director of Action Pro Sierra Leone, an organization she created to strengthen the work against child trafficking. Under her leadership her organization has prevented many children from becoming victims of trafficking, exploited and abused on their way to Europe. She is a humble and selfless leader focused on the wellbeing of her colleagues and the work of her organization.
Greek Forum of Refugees, Greece
Yonous Muhammadi is a passionate child protection advocate who himself arrived in Greece as an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan in 2001. As the President of The Greek Forum of Refugees, he has been instrumental in organizing the different national communities for refugees in Greece giving them a strong joint voice in their work with empowerment, advocacy, awareness-raising, rights protection and networking.