St. George Lycabettus Hotel
March 6, 2019, 9:30 am
Delivered standing at podium with a microphone
Good morning. Thank you Maria for your opening remarks and for supporting this important initiative, and thank you to all of our attendees for joining us today.
The migration wave that has passed through the Balkan route since 2015 has presented unprecedented challenges to countries along this pathway. National governments, the European Union, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations have all played a part in providing humanitarian assistance, protection, and legal aid to millions of migrants and asylum-seekers. Many of you in the audience today were on the front lines of these efforts, and you know that migrants and asylum-seekers are some of the most vulnerable populations in need of protection.
Human trafficking is a pernicious crime that transcends national boundaries. In my previous assignment representing the United States at the OSCE, where I know Mr. Moskoff has also been working diligently on this issue, I supported efforts to strengthen international cooperation against human trafficking. I recognize how crucial these partnerships are in this fight to end human trafficking, which is why I am so glad to see so many representatives from neighboring countries here today.
I think we all agree that we need a comprehensive understanding of the regional situation and strategies for fostering resilience within these groups. And so I am proud the U.S. government supported this research undertaken by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, and I look forward to learning more about the conversations it generates later today.
As you well know, this research is not the end of our struggle in the fight against human trafficking, but it does give us information we can use to improve our practices. The real outcome of this project will be up to you — those who work with this population on a daily basis. How will you use this information to protect vulnerable people? How will you share it with others in your home countries? I encourage you to use this workshop as a catalyst to strengthen regional cooperation and research-based approaches in this field.
Thank you again to the representatives from the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office in Washington, for funding this important effort, and for the professionals at the ICPMD and especially the study’s author Claire Healy, for their hard work in its implementation. Thank you to Heracles Moskoff, Maria Giannakaki, and the government of Greece for their cooperation in organizing this workshop, supporting this research, and their continued efforts to combat human trafficking. And thank you to all of you in the audience for your work in the field, for your participation in this conversation, and for your commitment to help alleviate the human suffering caused by human trafficking.