New shelter for trafficking victims

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The Social Welfare Deputy Ministry announced the operation of a new unit for managing human trafficking victims based in a Nicosia shelter for those sexually exploited.

In 2022-2023, Social Welfare Services (SWS) were called to assist in 296 cases of trafficked victims, while  34 women were accommodated in the shelter.

Acting director of the Social Welfare Services, Eftychios Hadjichristodoulou, said human trafficking was a volatile form of organised international crime, which creates difficulties in dealing with it.

He said digital technology and the internet have significantly changed how human trafficking rings operate.

In Cyprus, the most common forms of trafficking are sexual and labour exploitation.

Other forms were forced marriages, trafficking of infants and children, and trafficking to beg and commit criminal acts.

Hadjichristodoulou said the unit’s operation aimed to adopt a human-centred approach to the personalised support services offered in matters of human trafficking.

The SWS was called to assist in 147 cases in 2022, implementing individual assistance and support measures for victims, while in 2023, so far, there have been 149 cases.

Accordingly, the shelter accommodated 20 victims in 2022 and 14 in 2023.

Admission of victims to the shelter was voluntary.

Besides the shelter in Nicosia, which can accommodate 15 women, there was also one in Limassol. Regarding the male victims of trafficking, he said that they are placed in temporary accommodation.

“Today, we are officially taking another important step towards the protection and support of the victims”, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Marilena Evangelou said.

She said the unit would contribute to a better response in all stages of dealing with victims of human trafficking, such as identification, reporting, support and protection measures, and the repatriation process in case the victim is not a Cypriot citizen and wishes to return to their country.