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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

Serbia, Montenegro & Kosovo

In the first decade of the 21st Century                         

Republic of Serbia

Milosevic-era mismanagement of the economy, an extended period of international economic sanctions, and the damage to Yugoslavia's infrastructure and industry during the NATO airstrikes in 1999 left the economy only half the size it was in 1990.

Belgrade has made progress in trade liberalization and enterprise restructuring and privatization, including telecommunications and small- and medium-size firms. It has made halting progress towards EU membership despite signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Brussels in May 2008. Serbia is also pursuing membership in the World Trade Organization. Unemployment and the large current account deficit remain ongoing political and economic problems.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Serbia



Republic of Montenegro

The dissolution of the loose political union between Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 led to separate membership in several international financial institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Unemployment and regional disparities in development are key political and economic problems. Montenegro has privatized its large aluminum complex - the dominant industry - as well as most of its financial sector, and has begun to attract foreign direct investment in the tourism sector. The global financial crisis is likely to have a significant negative impact on the economy.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Montenegro


Republic of Kosovo

Kosovo's citizens are the poorest in Europe with an average annual per capita income of only $2,300. Unemployment, around 40% of the population, is a significant problem that encourages outward migration and black market activity. Most of Kosovo's population lives in rural towns outside of the capital, Pristina. Inefficient, near-subsistence farming is common - the result of small plots, limited mechanization, and lack of technical expertise.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Kosovo

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Belgrade street children struggle to eke out living

Agence France-Presse AFP, Belgrade, Mar 17, 2008

[accessed 13 February 2015]

The plight of Luja, a 16-year-old who stopped going to school because he couldn't afford books, reflects that of the hundreds of homeless children in Belgrade.  Instead of getting an education, he guards a private car parking lot, scraping just enough together to be able to survive.  Luja's story is similar to those of some of the estimated 500 homeless children and teenagers who, during the day, wander along the grimy streets of the Serbian capital.  Most of them are Roma, but of different backgrounds, some having run away from their biological or adoptive parents, and others having fled orphanages or youth centres.  Many are refugees. Those who fled the southern territory of Kosovo in recent years joined ones who left their homes during the wars in neighbouring Bosnia and Croatia in the early 1990s.

After a day spent begging in the streets, trying to attract the attention of indifferent passers-by, cleaning windshields at main crossroads or minding luxury cars, these children return to what they consider their homes: abandoned basements or even drainage holes.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - SERBIA [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2006

[accessed 18 July 2011]

[accessed 3 January 2017]

Roma children and street children are an extremely vulnerable group, and anecdotes of prostitution of Roma children around train and bus stations are common. These children are at high risk of being trafficked in Serbia in particular, and there were reports in 2002 of Roma children from the former Yugoslavia being sold in Italy for the sex industry.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Romani, Ashkali, and Egyptian children attended mixed schools with ethnic Albanian children but reportedly faced intimidation in some majority Albanian areas. Romani children tended to be disadvantaged by poverty, leading many to start work both at home and in the streets at an early age to contribute to family income.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] In villages and farming communities, younger children typically worked to assist their families. Urban children often worked in a variety of unofficial retail jobs, such as washing car windows or selling newspapers, cigarettes, and phone cards on the street; the numbers of such children grew in the last year, although statistics were not kept by either UNMIK or the PISG. Some children were also engaged in physical labor, such as transporting goods.

Belgrade's street children find comfort, help at daycare centre

Bojana Milovanovic, Southeast European Times, Belgrade, 13/04/2009 -- Photos by Nikola Barbutov

[accessed 18 July 2011]

Experts believe that more than 500 minors -- predominantly Roma -- live or work on the streets of Belgrade. Instead of enjoying clean sheets and a comfortable home bed, these children sleep in drainage shafts, cardboard boxes or ruined buildings.   They often beg in the streets, together with their parents, or stop motorists to wash their windshields for a coin or two. The majority of these children lack IDs or health insurance, and because of past run-ins with the law shy away from social protection institutions and juvenile delinquent facilities. According to UNICEF Serbia, more than 300,000 children in the country by poverty, have no access to medical care or any education.   Most of them are Roma, but they come from different backgrounds -- some have run away from their biological or adoptive parents, others have left orphanages or youth centres behind. Many are refugees. According to AFP, many children who fled Kosovo in recent years joined ones who left their homes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia in the early 1990s

Idriz, 17, has been working on the street since he was nine. He lives with his parents, five brothers and three sisters. After four years of elementary school, he began supporting the family, since his father is disabled and his mother must take care of the younger children. Idriz earns a living by washing windshields or collecting aluminum and copper scrap with his brother's help.   "I can't go back to school, because there's no one to provide for the family. My brother and I daily earn about 11 euros. That amount cannot feed the ten of us," Idriz says.

Poor Education Must Come To An End

Catholic Agency for Overseas Development CAFOD -- photography by Simon Rawles

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 18 July 2011]

Up to 80 per cent of the Roma community in Belgrade live in unhygienic settlements.  Sometimes three generations live in one shack, made from anything they can find.   Of the 82,000 Roma children in Serbia only around 15,000 attend school.  RCC staff provide regular supplementary education classes for 2,700 Roma children in five schools and three settlements in Belgrade. They also support street children and Roma women who are victims of domestic violence.

Ombudsperson Sends Appeal To Help Kosovo Street Children [PDF]

Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo, Quarterly Information Sheet, April - June 2005

[accessed 18 July 2011]

[page 15] On the 20th of April 2005, the Ombudsperson sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Mr. Bajram Kosumi, to draw his attention to the situation of children who were spending their days on the street, working or begging for money and who were dropping out or not attending school.

According to the Ombudsperson, these were not “street children” in the strict sense of the word, because they returned to their home and families in the evenings. Nevertheless, such children were still exposed to various dangers, as they were liable to become easy victims of trafficking or child prostitution.

Relief for Oppressed People Everywhere ROPE

News from ROPE (Relief for Oppressed People Everywhere), February 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 18 July 2011]

Our contact reports "There are many very poor people in Serbia, unbelievably poor even for us. Some of them live in utter poverty without food, clothes, shoes, sleeping on the floor. They send their children to beg on the street.”

Trafficking in Human Beings in Southeastern Europe [PDF]

Barbara Limanowska, Stability Pact Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings, UNICEF, June 2002

[accessed 21 December 2010]

[accessed 3 January 2017]

REPUBLIC OF SERBIA -- 1.2. TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN - There are also reports of Romanian children and adolescents in Belgrade living on the streets because they are too old to be placed in institutions. The Romanian Embassy is not interested in repatriating these children and adolescents, and no special programs or services exist for migrant children living on the streets.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children – Serbia-Montenegro",, [accessed <date>]