London, Oct 18 (IANS) A new system to protect trafficked children has indicated that there has been an alarming rise in the number of Albanian child slaves forced to work in Britain, the media reported.
Figures shared by the children’s charity Barnardo’s — which is trialling a new Home Office-funded advocacy service to provide better protection for child-trafficking victims — suggested that a growing number of children from Albania are arriving in Britain, often voluntarily, only to end up being exploited, The Guardian reported.
Most of those helped were aged between 15 and 17, but the Barnardo’s schemes have encountered cases involving children as young as three. There was an almost even split between boys and girls.
“Within the past year, there has been an increase in the number of trafficked children from Albania whom we support across our services,” said Javed Khan, Barnardo’s chief executive.
He said some were used as forced labour, often on building sites, but most were exploited for criminal activities.
“We believe they have been trafficked internally after arriving here,” Khan said, adding “We know they have experienced trauma”.
The Home Office has estimated that 13,000 people are believed to be victims of slavery in the Britain currently.
However, the exact number of exploited children is probably significantly higher, Khan suggested.
Previously, Albanian children were not recognised as a particularly at-risk group in Britain.
Most children forced to work as slaves in Britain came from Vietnam (31 percent), Romania (16 percent), Morocco (16 percent) and Nigeria (13 percent).