Separate centre for young victims of human trafficking to be opened in Flanders
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Separate centre for young victims of human trafficking to be opened in Flanders

€20 million will go to new shelters intended to take young people who need to be protected away from community centres. Credit: Minor Ndako

The youth aid organisation Minor Ndako has received permission to open a separate shelter for young victims of human trafficking, so they no longer need to go to a community centre for protection.

Minor Ndako, which is known for its reception of unaccompanied refugee children, wants to open a separate centre with six places for girls who have fallen victim to sex trafficking. Often, these girls come from abroad and are forced into prostitution here.

The approval of the plan for the new shelter fits in with the Juvenile Delinquency Decree, which aims to separate young people who have committed a crime from young people who need protection because of a precarious living situation. At the moment, these two groups still come into contact with each other in the closed community facilities of Beernem and Mol, reports Bruzz.

“Wallonia has had a separate reception centre for young victims for some time now. It is called Esperanto, is located in a secret place and the young people who live there are not allowed to use mobile phones or social media during the first month. They are also not allowed outside. This way they are ‘uprooted’ from their criminal network,” said Lorin Parys, Flemish MP, reports De Standaard.

“You can only end a human trafficking network after the children and young people involved are physically removed, feel safe and protected in another place, and supported to start a normal life,” he said.

€60 million will be invested in aid for youth in the coming legislature, announced Wouter Beke, the Flemish Minister for Welfare. €20 million will go to new shelters intended to take young people who need to be protected away from community centres. A call for projects has been launched earlier, to which many facilities have responded.

“Minor Ndako is not the only organisation whose proposal has been approved. There will be additional shelters all over Flanders,” said Peter Jan Bogaert, spokesperson for Youth Aid, reports De Standaard. “It will take another year at least, because now all these facilities will have to look for suitable spaces and the means to buy or build them,” he said, adding that the centres will most likely be opened by 2021.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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