‹– Repatriation of Trafficked Children
(Experience of FACT Project, implemented by Representation of Swiss Foundation “Terre des homes” in the Republic of Moldova, Lozana, and „Save the Children” NGO in Moldova)

Antonina Comerzan,
Child Protection Coordinator

Every second child, repatriated with the help of FACT Project, left the country with one or both parents. A quarter of school-aged repatriated children are illiterate because of non-attendance of school or because they were abandoned at different stages. At least 2 children out of those 34 repatriated in the year 2005 were previously trafficked to the Russian Federation, being, consequently, repatriated for the second, and, correspondingly, for the third time.


The major challenge, identified when analyzing the situation of repatriated children, has demonstrated that a large number of trafficked under-aged belong to socially vulnerable families, overwhelmingly from one-parent families, the only parent usually being mother. Reintegration of such children into families is a spontaneous process, without any monitoring, and, as a result, without success in the majority of cases.

Also, due to lack of time and procedure, scarce human and financial resources, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MEYS), as a guardianship authority, fails to reply to all repatriation requests coming from the Russian Federation. Therefore, the number of children placed in the Russia’s protection institutions is growing.

At least 1000 children from zones of intervention, subject to maximal risk of being trafficked, will enjoy assistance as to prevent trafficking thereof, and at least 100 children-victims will be liberated and rehabilitated by multidisciplinary teams from native regions with the assistance organized in the framework of FACT Project.


„Preliminary Study on Children’s Situation and Evaluation of Their Needs” carried out by Terre des hommes in the Republic of Moldova in 2004, contributed to creation of the Fight Against Child Trafficking in Moldova Project, FACT, whose objective is to reduce child trafficking phenomenon in the Republic of Moldova by means of increasing participation of trafficked children and children under high risk of being trafficked to the local programs, which are promoted and coordinated by a multidisciplinary network of professionals. One of the final project’s results is to have created in the zones of intervention a system for protection of trafficked children and protection/re-integration services designed for such children. As a result of analyzing the contents of measures adopted in the framework of repatriation missions in 2005, several key stages have been synthesized. On the basis of these stages, and together with the involved ministries, a draft procedure of children repatriation has been developed. This draft is the basis for the system of intervention/assistance to children-victims.

Project’s Direct Target Group:
  • boys and girls under 18, under risk situation, or victims of internal/external trafficking.
Indirect Target Group:
  • families with children from target communities;
  • families with trafficked children;
  • families of children to have been detected in the maximum trafficking-related risk situation.
System of intervention in the framework of FACT Project envisages that all victims should be referred to the protection/rehabilitation/social reintegration services, which can respond to children’s needs.

The following are beneficiaries of this procedure:

  • trafficked children;
  • children, detected by authorities of the Russian Federation as children who are not accompanied by authorized adult persons;
  • children, detected while crossing borders of the Republic of Moldova, in the company of or without parents or any other authorized adults;
  • children who were born and abandoned in the Russian Federation, their parents being citizens of the Republic of Moldova;
  • children who were abandoned in the Russian Federation or on the territory of other countries, their parents being citizens of the Republic of Moldova.
No. Procedure Actions
1. Child detection / liberation
  • identification of children
  • child referral to protection services
2. Protection in the country of destination
  • case determination
  • medical and psychological investigations
  • filling out registration card
  • informing guardianship authorities
3. Coordination and communication with the country of origin
  • coordination of operative information exchange between the authorized structures
  • verification of child’s case
  • inform the institution where children are protected (in Russian Federation)
4. Family search/identification
  • family evaluation in the Republic of Moldova
  • identification of parents
5. Determination of repatriation plan (terms, conditions, preparing child)
  • preparing child’s case
  • preparing child for repatriation
6. Child repatriation/protection in the country of origin (Republic of Moldova)
  • repatriation mission planning
  • preparation of travel documents
  • purchase of passage tickets
  • financing of traveling expenses
  • determination of guardianship authorities, which will take over the child for assistance rendering
  • providing institution from the country of destination with information about the solution for the child (information about the form of protection)
  • determination of an urgent placement institution
7. Child reintegration project in the Republic of Moldova
  • child’s physical and emotional evaluation
  • evaluation of family and assessment of family’s capacities to take over the child
  • development of individual plan for child reintegration
  • monitoring and evaluation of individual plan


Child reintegration in family
  • visit to the family
  • development of family’s social questionnaire
  • conditioning of child placement
  • monitoring of child situation.

Thus, the supportive measures Terre des Hommes offers to authorities of the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation refer to introduction of standard repatriation procedures, drafted by specialists from the two countries, as to offer the best solutions for each child on the basis of observing the child’s rights and superior interests.

According to results of the FACT Project: 10 children were reintegrated in their own families, one child was adopted by a local family, one child was taken under guardianship by the relatives, and one child was placed into vocational school.


At the initial stage, repatriation practice of Save Children Moldova and MEYS was analyzed. Simultaneously, the year 2005 repatriation missions, carried out with the support of the FACT Project, were monitored. Consequently, when assessing movements in the country of destination (Russian Federation) and in the country of origin (Republic of Moldova), several stages were highlighted:

Assisted deliberate repatriation presupposes the following:
  • child’s conscious return to the country of origin, with the help of the authorized structures on both sides of border;
  • the return is done to child’s superior interests and upon the child’s consent.

  • child identification/detection (country of destination);
  • child identification by means of determining his/her citizenship and legal status (country of destination in collaboration with the country of origin);
  • child registration (country of origin);
  • evaluation of child’s family (country of origin in collaboration with country of destination, if family members are not on the territory of the Republic of Moldova), including evaluation of child repatriation risks;
  • development of individual plan for child reintegration (country of origin);
  • determination of repatriation procedure and institution where the child will be referred to after repatriation (country of origin upon mutual consent with country of destination);
  • repatriation (country of origin and country of destination);
  • child rehabilitation and reintegration (country of origin);
  • monitoring of Individual Reintegration Plan and evaluation of child reintegration progress (country of origin).


During December 2004 – December 2005, there were repatriated from the Russian Federation 34 children in the framework of 3 repatriation missions, organized by the Moldovan side, and 3 missions, organized by the Russian side (directly by protection institutions) with the help of FACT Project. The 34 children belong to 12 rayons of the Republic of Moldova (Straseni, Criuleni, Hincesti, Orhei, Chisinau, Drochia, Dubasari, Tiraspol, Slobozia, etc.)

These stages formed the basis for the draft repatriation procedure, which was discussed during several round-table meetings, organized under the auspices of UNICEF, with participation of all ministries that have to do with any of the process stages: Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Public Health and Social Protection.

As to ensure observance of this procedure, the FACT Project in collaboration with partners from the Russian Federation went on offering assistance throughout the entire process of repatriation of children–citizens of the Republic of Moldova, protected in Russia’s social centers, and promoting creation of the new cases early alarm system, which will allow immediate protection of detected children, as well as assisted deliberate repatriation thereof.

The process of child repatriation and social reintegration has unveiled a row of challenges related to quality and variety of services rendered to the child in the country of destination (Russian Federation) and in the country of origin (Republic of Moldova).

Thus, we found out that:

  • information about placement of child, presumably originating from the Republic of Moldova, to a protection institution in the Russian Federation, is transmitted to the guardianship authorities of the Republic of Moldova with delay;
  • guardianship authority from the Republic of Moldova, in its turn, submits information with equal delay, and child’s transfer in the protection system of the Russian Federation (transfer from one institution to another) is lost;
  • determination of child’s legal status is a process that is differently approached by the country of origin and the country of destination and, as a result, the set of necessary acts and the acts considered as necessary are different;
  • the Russian side is not interested in recognizing the circumstances of child’s stay in the Russian Federation, whereas the Moldovan side is not interested in the circumstances of child’s entrance/placement into Russia’s protection institutions;
  • repatriation is carried out spontaneously, without any planning;
  • child’s family is identified and evaluated after child repatriation;
  • child repatriation is also spontaneous, non-planned, and is not coordinated with local governments, nor the local governments get involved into the process.

All these statements have clearly shown:

  1. lack of standard child repatriation procedures in both countries;
  2. lack of cooperation between Russian and Moldovan child protection authorities;
  3. scarce human and financial resources in the system;
  4. limited access to information.


Child repatriation procedure should ensure observance of child’s rights and superior interests, and should include both activities that precede repatriation (identification and evaluation of children’s own families, preparation of child and institution for receiving the child, preparation of repatriation case, etc.), and post-repatriation activities (rehabilitation and reintegration, as well as monitoring of the process).

Therefore, with a view of improving the documents and ensuring applicability thereof, we suggest:

  • Development of coordinating relation between Russian and Moldovan child protection authorities as to define, on the basis of a bilateral agreement, procedures that would be standard for both countries;
  • Development of coordinating relation between Russian and Moldovan institutions, involved in child repatriation (MEYS and Ministry of Internal Affairs);
  • Development of common criteria for evaluation of family conditions before repatriation of children.