The final conference of the Pilot project for Early warning system for missing children in North Macedonia started with addresses and opening words from Doc. Dr. Jeton Shaqiri, Minister of Education and Science, Toni Angelovski, Assistant to the Minister of Interior on Public Relations and Mag. Harald Fugger, Attaché, Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection of Republic of Austria.

At the opening of the conference, Minister of Education Jeton Shaqiri emphasized that the disappearance of a person without a trace always causes great concern and fear among family members, friends and acquaintances, feelings that together with what is most pronounced at the moment – helplessness, can lead to hasty and reckless actions.

“Emotions are the strongest when a child disappears and therefore, there is no doubt whether the state should have an early warning system for missing children,” said Shaqiri, assessing that it is good that the first step has been taken.

He expressed hope that this initial version of the system that will be presented today will be effective, pointing out that we should all commit to continuously upgrading it in the future, especially by applying positive experiences from developed countries.

North Macedonia, he reminded, is a country that has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and, as he said, the position regarding this issue can be strengthened, among other things, precisely by establishing and applying such a tool.

Shaqiri emphasizes that the educational system has an important role in the early warning of missing children and that the Ministry of Education and Science makes available all its capacity in the development of this system.

“Everyone goes through the education system, and it plays a key role in the early detection of missing children. Teachers and school staff are often the first to notice when a child is absent or detect when he is at some risk, which is manifested through his behavior, appearance, etc. On the other hand, it is precisely in schools and through teaching and extra-curricular activities that children are introduced to the potential dangers that lie in wait for them. It will continue to be so. “Educational content related to this topic will probably become more and more common,” Shaqiri said.

He emphasized that the creation of a new electronic diary for students is in the final stage and that efforts are being made to integrate and connect it so that parents would know about their children’s absences from school every day.

“The creation of the new electronic diary, which should start functioning after the piloting we had in the previous months at the Ministry of Education, supported by the European Union, is in the final stage. “With the introduction of the new electronic diary, every effort is being made to integrate and connect it to obtain information immediately after entering the data, that is, parents can receive updated data on absent students every day,” he said.

He added that the Ministry of Education and Culture will continue to advocate for improving the safety of students, not only within school facilities, but also outside them, together with other competent institutions such as the Ministry of the Interior, but also local governments, the schools themselves and partner organizations.

The Assistant for Public Relations of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Toni Angelovski, emphasized at the conference that security in the country is not only the job of the police, and stressed that we must all contribute together to have a safer country.

“This is a classic example of cooperation with civil society organizations that will contribute to greater security. Of course, we are working continuously to introduce this system and all the steps must be taken before it can be fully implemented. What is being presented today is what has been done so far, and we continue to work intensively to finalize it,” he said.

Mag. Harald Fugger addressing at the conference emphasized the importance of the project „Piloting of an early warning system for missing children“ supported by the Austrian Social Ministry in covering important topics to protect children better from human trafficking, adding that in order to be able to fulfill international and European obligations in the policy field of human rights it is important for all countries to establish effective coordination and monitoring mechanisms as well as professional advice and support services, provided especially by NGO´s.

-In 2004, the Austrian federal government set up a task force to combat human trafficking in order to coordinate and intensify Austrian measures against human trafficking. On this basis, all relevant federal ministries and government agencies, the federal states, the social partners and specialized non-governmental organizations are represented in this task force. The main task of the task force is to draw up national action plans to combat human trafficking and to monitor their implementation. The National Action Plans take a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking and include measures for national coordination, prevention, victim protection, early intervention, law enforcement and international cooperation. There is an obligation every three years, to reports on the implementation of the national action plans, Mag. Fugger said.

A well-functioning welfare and social protection state to avoid child poverty is therefore an important preventive approach, he emphasized, adding that at European level there has been introduced the obligation for all EU-Member States to establish child guarantee schemes, what is also relevant for North Macedonia as an EU-accession country.

-Poverty is the main cause of child trafficking in a lot of countries as well as North Macedonia, so it is important that the country establishes also such child guarantees and I’ve heard that it is a plan to establish it in the future in your country too, said Mag. Harald Fugger.

As regards to this project, he added, it is important to establish an effective early warning system. In this context, the cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, institutions and organisations is vital as well as to empower, strengthen and financially secure children from particularly vulnerable groups.

Child protection must be a top priority for all countries that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, he added. In this context different areas need to be covered such as: Independent monitoring body for the implementation of children’s rights, Clear clarification of obligations and tasks of all stakeholders that work with children and young people on child protection, Elaboration of child protection strategies and concepts, Sufficient financing of measures and services against child exploitation and trafficking, measures against violence and advice services and support for victims. Also attention must be put on awareness raising, education & equal opportunities, especially as regards disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, he pointed out.

In this context, in Austria there have been developed also concrete guidelines for action for affected professional groups and institutions for identifying and dealing with potential victims of child trafficking, which also contain background information and indicators for identifying victims, Mag. Fugger added.

-Thanks a lot for this engagement to the Austrian NGO ECPAT as well as the NGO Journalists for human rights (JHR) in North Macedonia that closely cooperate within this project are very much engaged. Thanks a lot for this commitment, and thanks also to all relevant institutions in North Macedonia that closely cooperate within this project, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, MoH, Ministry of Interior, Centers for social work, hospitals etc. – said Mag. Harald Fugger wishing for successful functioning of the system.


Waltraud Gugerbauer, Director of ECPAT Austria, lead organization in implementation of the project, a member of the international ECPAT network 122 organizations in 110 countries), shared some details on the history of ECPAT Austria and the work they do – from field work with children to campaign, research, networking, experience and practices shared with the stakeholders in North Macedonia during the implementation of the project.

-In Austria we started with ECPAT in 2003, and I’m in charge of the organization as of recently but also programs including sexual exploitation of children in the tourism sector, and I’m glad we had this opportunity to work on this project with JHR funded by the Federal ministry for social affairs, health, care and consumer protection. ECPAT Austria focuses on campaigns, awareness raising, research and networking which are very important, said Waltraud Gugerbauer, Director of ECPAT Austria.

ECPAT Austria is a Member of the Austrian Task Force on Combating THB and the subgroup on Child Trafficking. The subgroup of the Task Force on Child Trafficking has been working on a proposal for a Specialised Intervention Centre for children in cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages Austria. As she emphasised, there is need of a good system for prevention and finding minors that go missing in the EU countries as they often become victims of child labour exploitation and sexual exploitation, but as she mentioned there are institutions who do good work, including the federal investigative system that has a good connection to other European and non-European institutions, and their training experience is highly valuable.

Waltraud Gugerbauer mentioned the project activities in North Macedonia saying that she feels that this project had a successful process of establishing the EWS and networking of different stakeholders from Austria and North Macedonia showing the cooperation of various stakeholders is crucial when it comes to topics like this, and the safety of children.

Sonni Schwarz, Project Coordinator, ECPAT Austria, emphasized the exchange of experience and the cooperation of stakeholders in Austria in the project implementation as a good practice that gives way to learn and develop further cooperation among stakeholders in North Macedonia, in order to make services for children as functional as possible. As she explained, Austrian institutions and NGOs working on the topic of child protection have also challenges they face but projects like this are an opportunity to learn from experiences and improve and that is what all the study visits and trainings were about. As she said, the establishment of an early warning system for missing children is what the aim of the project was, but this is the start of the work, since all stakeholders involved have a joint goal to make the future of every child safer by supporting the functioning of the system.

Aleksandra Radevska, project coordinator form JHR, North Macedonia, presented the project activities, goals and results and informed about further steps after the completion of the project. As she said, the project partners worked together with the aim of protecting children from disappearance, and an important aspect of the project was the engagement of various stakeholders (public and private sector, civil society organizations, media) in the implementation of the early warning system for missing children.

Speaking of results achieved she mentioned:

– institutionally involved professionals, NGOs, media and business community in the fight against human trafficking and – strengthened local partners through campaigns, representation, lobbying, capacity development, representation and reputation – sharing EU experiences for good practices and their upgrading at the national level

– enabled the involvement of the business community and CSOs and opportunities for the participation of civil society from, and in, the SEE region – use of companies’ media platforms to share information about missing persons: bank ATMs, public transport companies, digital screens in hotels , travel agencies, shopping centers, gas stations, sales chains, etc.

– developed tools that can be replicated e.g. training kit, terms of reference, and capacity building of all target groups to create a foundation and demand for training and facilitation skills in the thematic areas under consideration

-Strengthened capacities of various social stakeholders (civil organizations, institutional representatives, journalists)

– Multi-layered media scope: billboards, campaign on social networks, guest appearances and stories in various media, networking and exchange of experiences of journalists from the country and from the EU (Ionian trainings, study visits to Austria and North Macedonia)

-Increased visibility of people living in very precarious and socio-economically unfavorable conditions through case studies

-Increased sensitivity and networking of Macedonian and Austrian journalists through trainings and study visits in Austria and North Macedonia on the topics of human trafficking and disappearance of children

– a document of recommendations to relevant institutions by two experts from North Macedonia and Austria

-Signed agreements with relevant stakeholders, companies, involved institutions, data protection authorities, that they will do everything to ensure the sustainable implementation of the project, Memorandum of understanding with Amber Alert Europe, Memorandum on cooperation with institutions (the Ministry of the Interior, the Agency for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Information of a Public Character…), with the business community (Komercijalna Banka, HOTAM, Federation of Auto Taxi Transport Skopje….)

– Activated early warning system for missing children – website in three languages: Macedonian, Albanian and Roma.

Finishing Radevska emphasized the importance of cooperation of all stakeholders as the long-term goal is to institutionalize the Early warning system for missing children in the country.

Filip Spirovski, president of JHR introduced the functioning of the platform – the site which is part of the early warning system for missing children, saying it will function according to the principle of an application that will be filled out on the website.

After the received information and report from the family of a missing child, JHR checks the information through the contact person in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. If the missing person is also reported there, that report is published on the website for missing children and shared through all information channels widely to the public, i.e. on social networks, on the information channels that we have in the partnership cooperation that we have established for the time being, pointed Spirovski.

-It is important to make agreements with the business community, with JSP, with the portals, the media. We start with missing children, but the question is raised, what about missing adults? So, there is an opportunity to expand the site. The missing person report is not immediately visible on the website. The data is immediately sent to the Ministry of the Interior, where the operational part begins. We are waiting for the information to come back, with permission to publish. As it was for Vanja, the girl that late November was reported missing but unfortunately was found dead several days later, said Filip Sprirovski from Journalists for Human Rights.

Marjan Delevski, IT expert, author of the website “Najdime”( Find Me) said at the presentation that the first hour or two are the most important after a person goes missing.

-These persons are on the website of the Ministry of the Interior, but you cannot share them. With the agreement of the NGO and the Ministry of the Interior, the announcement of ‘Find me’ about the missing child is shared by social networks, news aggregates, the business community, the whole society. It is important to know that we publish only after a specific report to the Ministry of the Interior. Without a report to the Ministry of the Interior, we do not publish information about a missing child,” said Delevski.

Again explaining the technical steps in filling out a missing person profile and all the other available information on the site, he emphasized that personal data on the website is encrypted and protected from abuse. He clarified regarding the functioning of the system that anyone and from anywhere can report a missing person. The application is not seen in public, the IT persons behind the website review the data and report it to the Ministry of the Interior. Then a feedback is awaited and the missing person profile is published.

Assistant Minister of Internal Affairs Toni Angelovski emphasized that every report will first be thoroughly checked by the police so that a “stolen baby” does not happen to us, when in fact the baby was not even born.

-For an announcement on the ‘Find me’ system, of course, you will also need permission from the family. We also ask for permission from the family on our missing persons’ website. If we don’t have one, we don’t publish a photo and information about the missing person. When a missing person is reported, tell everything you know. Even the most insignificant information that seems to you can help a lot,” said Angelovski.

He emphasized the cooperation with JHR as a good example of institutions and NGOs working together for the benefit of citizens, and because children are a very vulnerable group it is especially important.

Sashko Sirachevski, chief inspector in the national unit to fight against migrant smuggling and human trafficking, Department of Criminal Investigations, Department for suppression of organized and serious crime, Ministry of Interior, presented the National Unit which is led by the Public prosecutor at the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organised Crime and Corruption (BPO for POCC), head and deputy head of NUSMSHT, as well as 12 inspectors, analyst, documenting person, and 21 contact persons in the border police and Buro for public safety, as well as 2 persons in each of the 8 Sectors of internal affairs. As he said the cooperation with NGOs is in trafficking in persons (child or adult) and they give support in assuring the rights of the person until it is determined as a victims of trafficking or potential victim of TP. The cooperation with regional centers and internal sectors of MOI is high in order to save time and resources in exchange and flow of information from local to central level.

He said that North Macedonia is defined as transit country because of the geographical position, the existence of organized criminal groups and there are mixed refugee and migrant groups in illegal migration. It is a country of origin because of economic and social position, youth unemployment, hope for a better life abroad, vulnerable category of persons, and children are often victims, but also a country of final destination (victims of trafficking In persons) in a small percentage, for work in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, seasonal workers, but also forced marriages, modified modus operandi.

He mentioned the procedure for a missing person report to the police saying that the family and friends of the missing person are crucial in the investigation process, as well as sharing information on family relations, previous behaviour, places of preference, future plans that can guide the search, and it is important to give a photo and not to hide information from the police. In cases of persons with health issues like dementia, it is important not to leave them without support and care of another person. He said that establishing the EWS for missing children is a useful tool that with good support and cooperation for all stakeholders can help speed up the process of search and the successful return of missing children.

Baže Dimitriovski, chief inspector in The Property and Violent Crime Unit, Criminal Police Department, Ministry of Interior, whose department is part of the Police Expert network established by Amber Alert Europe, in exchange of experience, coordination with institutions and NGOs, said the responsibilities of the department are undertaking of activities related to the disappearance of persons, including children. Units of MOI that work missing persons are the Sector for international police cooperation-Searches, Interpol, the Department for Suppression of Organized and Serious Crime, all sectors for internal affairs in the country, the Department of the Crime Police with the sector for general and violent crime. In that sense, the Criminal Police Department coordinates activities together with the relevant Units, Departments, all Sectors for internal affairs on the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia for the detection, elucidation, proof and prevention of this type of crime.

He mentioned the important work in some cases of missing children that the Interpol office in the MOI has that colleagues present Bojan Petrovski and Branislava Stojcevska do.

As he explained, cooperation among institutions, with the public and NGOs working with children as well as inter-institutional cooperation outside the country is very important since each case is different and needs different approach. Referring to the ways of disappearing children he stated following: by committing a crime or by self-abandonment and leaving home. Motives for disappearance of children due to a crime are: illegal deprivation and abduction as a basis for extorting money, forcible abduction of child and adoption of child by one of the parents due to problems in marriage – divorce and assignment of the child, human trafficking and other modes. Self-initiated departure and abandonment can happen due to dissatisfaction with family life of spouses, disturbed relations between parents and children, forbidden love, health problems.

As Dimitriovski said, the procedure of filing a missing person report is necessary but it is also punishable as a criminal act if false. When a search is issued for a missing person on local level in one of the units or in Skopje, it is shared on central level as well, and regarding time limits of 24 hours are usually discussed with the prosecutor, in order not to waste time. If the case is sensitive the prosecutor allows for mobile phones to be located and to organize a search. Good teams, equipped, but also local knowledge of terrain and support is sometimes crucial for a successful retrieval of a missing person, so having the EWS established by JHR as a support mechanism is good and it can be further strengthened with cooperation of different stakeholders that give services that can help in spreading the word and speeding up the search of a missing person.

Representative from the Ministry of Education and Science, Javorka Gjorgievska, joined at a later time and briefly explained the activities the ministry implements what it comes to vulnerable groups like Roma children to integrate them in the educational processes. As she mentioned the number of educational mediators has been rising and for the school year 2023/24 there was a call for 40 Roma education mediators, and work is being done to minimize the dropout of school but also stimulate further education, after primary school.

Natasha Dokovska from Journalists for Human Rights gave an overview of the exchange of information through the study visits saying it was an invaluable experience and opportunity to get insight into the work of Austrian institutions, NGOs and media on the topic of missing children and protection of children rights in general but also to see how inter-institutional cooperation can improve the services for children in our country. She specifically mentioned as beneficial the networking and exchange of experiences on the topic of THB and missing children among journalists of the two countries which is a process that should continue, in order to educate the public on the topic of child safety as well as educating journalists and putting pressure in media to treat more social topics.

Vulnerable groups like the Roma children are especially important to be educated but also supported by all institutions in order to limit the risk of missing children cases especially among the so called phantom persons – persons without birth certificates. She said that the project activities and the process of establishing the EWS website and networking of different stakeholders is a good step towards a systemic improvement of child safety and minimizing risks of children going missing but JHR will continue to work on engaging even more stakeholders and businesses and media, nationally and regionally even after the project has completed.

Andrea Nakova from JHR presented the activities on the field that were part of the second phase of the project, specifically the 10 case studies with families in socio-economic disadvantaged circumstances. As she said it was an emotional process that showed educational barriers, paperwork complexity, economic instability, and legal hurdles, where a compelling emphasis is emerging on the critical role of education as both victim and beacon of hope.

These 10 families stories depict the far-reaching consequences of limited access to education, whether stemming from discrimination, documentation problems, remote life circumstances or disrupted migration experiences. Education, often compromised, remains a cornerstone for breaking the cycle of disadvantage, yet many families struggle with obstacles that perpetuate limited opportunities. The complexity of documentation compounds these challenges, significantly hindering access to basic services, employment and education for families with migration experiences or inadequate legal status. The bureaucratic struggle becomes a barrier to securing basic rights and vital education for their children.

As she explained, economic hardship exacerbates these complexities, leaving families with insufficient resources to meet basic needs or invest in their children’s education. Despite these enormous challenges, the resilience and unwavering determination of these families shine through, underscoring their deep commitment to education as a pathway to a brighter future.

These narratives serve as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for systemic reform and comprehensive support structures. Streamlining documentation processes, improving access to education in marginalized communities, and addressing economic disparities emerge as critical steps. Collaborative efforts involving government bodies, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and legal aid entities are imperative to remove these barriers and foster an environment that advocates for inclusion, fosters education and empowers families to thrive despite adversity. This collective effort is essential in transforming struggles into stories of success and resilience, where hope prevails even in the face of the most challenging circumstances, concluded Andrea Nakova, elaborating the field work during the project.

Danijela Cicvarić from Romano Centro, Austria, who worked on the recommendations for institutions spoke of the work they do in Austria and recommendations that were made regarding the local context.

From its experience in working with Roma children, the Romano Centro association has known for many years that most Roma children have massive problems at school (e.g. absenteeism, unclear residence status of their parents, health impairments, financial difficulties, ignorance of the Austrian education system, lack of education of the parents) and that the educational situation of Roma with a migration background is generally very poor. In addition, there are hurdles due to a lack of language skills and/or insecurities of the parents.

Roma school mediation is successfully carried out in many European countries (e.g. Finland, France, Spain, Czech Republic) and is cited as a successful model in the ongoing process of developing strategies for Roma integration in many countries. It is particularly highlighted by the EU Commission in its assessment of national measures or cited as an example of best practice ( European Commission, C (2013) 778 final).

The Roma Strategy of the Austrian Federal Government from 2017 provides for the use of Roma school mediators on the one hand in the education sector, to improve the educational situation and on the other hand in the area of  the labour market, for educational and career counselling at the interface between school and work. In the expanded National Roma Integration Strategy, which was published in 2021, Roma school mediation is also highlighted as a measure in the two areas mentioned  (Federal Chancellery, Roma Strategy 2021).

The overall goal of the to increase the educational opportunities of Roma children and the feedback on the work of the Roma school mediators from the schools is very good. The teachers, principals and school social workers see the Roma school mediators as an important additional resource for their school, which makes it possible to better deal with the problems of the families and which leads to the reduction of mutual prejudices and fears, she explained. In many cases, Roma school mediators can also contribute to improving the social situation of families and motivating children more to go to school. The fact that “being Roma” is becoming an issue in the schools where Roma school mediators work has no negative effects, as all feedback on this topic shows. In addition, the directors emphasise that despite the many existing support services in schools, such as: school social workers, school psychologists, mother tongue teachers, the Roma school mediators achieve the best success with Roma parents.

Speaking of recommendations, Danijela Cicvarić from Romano Centro emphasized:

  • Regular deployment of Roma school mediators in primary and secondary schools
  • Roma school mediators to be recruited from the community
  • Roma school mediators either have training in a psychosocial profession (e.g. social workers) or they attend further training in the psychosocial field (if they have not completed training, close cooperation with school social workers, school psychologists)
  • Regular supervision of Roma school mediators
  • Sustainability and secured financing
  • Individual free learning aid, which is available for families or children at home
  • Sensitization of school staff (e.g. teachers, directors) in educational institutions
  • Sensitization of social workers (child and youth welfare, and social workers from other relevant institutions)
  • Raising awareness among police and judicial officers
  • Raising awareness among journalists
  • Raising awareness among medical staff (doctors, nurses, etc.)
  • Sensitization of civil servants

Compared to other European and non-EU countries, the Austrian social system is very well structured. Social benefits (cash and non-cash benefits) are provided by various bodies and institutions. Different legal requirements also apply to the receipt of the various benefits (e.g. Austrian citizenship or persons treated as Austrian citizens, certain residence permits). The most important financial services in Austria are:

  • Family allowance (received by families regardless of their income)
  • Minimum income (for persons with no income or an income below the threshold)
  • Unemployment benefit (for unemployed persons)
  • Housing allowance
  • Child allowance

In addition, there are many counseling centers in Austria, including some Roma associations, which support families with their social and economic problems and, above all, help them to improve their economic situation.

As she explained recommendations in this sense are:

  • In the case of non-gainful employment or income below the limit, a legal entitlement to social assistance arises
  • Family allowance until 18. Age (up to 24 years in the case of education), regardless of the income of the parents or guardians
  • Childcare allowance (regardless of whether the parents or guardians worked before the birth of the child or not)
  • Secure housing conditions or financial support for housing
  • Unemployment benefit (at least 6 to 12 months) in case of dismissal
  •  Labour market projects specifically targeted at Roma and their needs
  • Labour market projects with qualification measures. For the duration of the qualification measures, the employment office takes over the coverage of the living expenses / financial security during the measure
  • Roma are employed as staff in all relevant institutions

Jelena Jovanović, school mediator, Romano Centro, Austria said that since September 2000, Romano Centro has been employing Roma school mediators (formerly school assistants) in selected Viennese schools, who provide important support for many Roma children, parents and teachers. They mediate between the above-mentioned actors, motivate and accompany the children in the classroom and support them in their learning, help the teachers to understand the cultural background and life situation of the children and the parents to find a positive approach to school in order to be able to support their children. Due to their knowledge of their mother tongue (Romani, Serbian, Romanian)and their own affiliation to the Roma ethnic group, the school mediators have an identification function for the children and are available to the parents as confidants – with an understanding of the social, cultural and everyday background. As she said since there are only 2 mediators, herself and another colleague, it is a challenging process but they try to do it as successfully as possible and go in every school they are called in.

Their task are:

  • Supporting school-home relations and communication between teachers and Roma parents
  • Information, advice and support for parents in school and educational matters
  • Contact person (in several languages) for Roma students and parents and for teachers in case of concerns or problems of/with Roma students
  • Accompaniment of teaching outputs to ensure the participation of Roma students
  • Supporting Roma students in the classroom during lessons, especially through communication in their mother tongue
  • Provision of additional learning opportunities or support opportunities for Roma children
  • Providing students and teachers with knowledge about Roma culture and history in order to promote mutual understanding and self-confidence among Roma students
  • Provision of support services to the families to improve the social situation and orientation in the social landscape of Vienna
  • advising children, young people and adults on the topics of education and career choice as well as on questions of education and training; Accompaniment of young people to initial and vocational training offers as well as motivation to proactively search for them
  • Participation in selected, self-esteem-strengthening youth projects

From her experience directors also believe that many Roma students who come to school irregularly are more likely to be present on the days when Roma school mediators are also at the site. Parents see Roma school mediators as confidants who represent their interests and the interests of their children.

Fikrija Tair, the expert from North Macedonia presenting the recommendations first spoke of the legal context and the problem, after which she continued with the elements of a Missing Persons Framework Model:

-A clear definition of what constitutes a missing child;

-Establishing an easy mechanism for reporting a missing child;

-Urgent investigation following a report of a missing child case;

-Strict control during cross-border travel with a child;

-Established national register of missing persons;

-Establishing a good mechanism for managing the registry and information;

-Establishing a system for distributing a photo of a missing child

-Method of response and initiation of investigation by competent institutions;

-Inter-institutional cooperation and formal agreements;

-Encouraging the involvement of the public and the civil sector;

-Establishment of a System following the example of the Amber Alert.

She also addressed the absence and exclusion from the educational system as one of the potential risks of disappearance, and gave an overview of the recommendations for institutionalization of the EWS:

  1. Passing laws on key issues in order to institutionalize and establish a functional early warning system for cases;
  2. The early warning system and the whole procedure surrounding its activation should be fast.;
  3. Cooperation between the authority leading the investigation and the police is required when activating this system;
  4. The social protection system should be involved in decision-making to activate the early warning system of cases of missing persons taking into account the records kept by the Centers for Social Work;
  5. Cooperation with companies that manage social networks;
  6. The necessary free telephone line intended for reporting missing children;
  7. Feasibility study regarding institutionalization;
  8. Need established policies, standards and operational procedures, equally and in the same way to be undertaken and followed for every case of a missing child without exception;
  9. Inter-institutional cooperation with clearly defined roles;
  10. The system should contain information and update it accordingly, on the ways of reporting cases of disappearance;
  11. To provide support in the process of prevention of the victims with mandatory activation of the competent institutions.

She concluded with the recommendations for the prevention and minimization of the risks of missing children:

  1. Involvement of educational institutions, teaching staff and professional services in schools should be included in the system for missing children;
  2. The state educational inspectorate should be proactive, that is, react and prevent when information is given about absence;
  3. Institutional cooperation in the exchange of information about children who are absent from the educational system;
  4. The state should provide disaggregated data per different basis;
  5. A more effective mechanism for registering children on the street, to react appropriately and, if necessary, involve other competent institutions;
  6. To use and upgrade the capacities of journalists who report on the topic;
  7. Educational mediators, personal assistants and social workers and psychologists should be involved in overcoming the problem;
  8. Institutions for orphans or small group homes to develop a better system of locating and checking children when they go outside the facilities;
  9. Opening of new centers for street children with comprehensive programs for the integration of families into social flows;
  10. To clearly define the competences of the social centers and the police during interventions;
  11. Direct involvement in the process is required prevention and psychosocial support, sensitization and training;
  12. To improve services for children and to introduce a separate institutional unit.

At the final session of the conference, Aleksandra Radevska was emphasized that disappearance, the risks of disappearance of children as a trend in modern society, violence, whether it is online violence, physical violence, psychological abuse, are challenges that widely affect all, but mostly children as the most vulnerable category.  She emphasized that it is planned that the alarm, that is, the wide informing of the public about missing persons, should be initiated only in case of a kidnapping, that is, a high risk to the life of the missing person, and the support in spreading the information can come from different places. That is why businesses are important partners in this process, she said introducing the first responsible businesses that joined the EWS for missing children.

Spasijka Eftimoska, MA, independent coordinator for public relations at Komercijalna banka said that Komercijalna banka as a highly socially responsible company, will be the first bank in the country to share information about missing children on its ATMs in order to find them faster. The bank has the honor of being a partner of the platform, which started functioning in North Macedonia as a project of the Journalists for Human Rights. As she said, Komercijalna banka welcomes this noble initiative and the promotion of the website This website is aimed at introducing an Amber Alert system for early warning of missing children in our country, and Komercijalna Banka will contribute to this system’s efficient functioning by sharing information through its network of ATMs throughout the country. On the screen of every ATM of Komercijalna banka, when the need arises, a picture of the missing person and a phone number to report to if anyone sees the missing child will be shared, she said.

-Nowadays, there are more and more mechanisms and channels that allow information about missing children to spread quickly and reach as many people as possible. But unfortunately, there are more and more risks and various challenges that can distract children and expose them to serious dangers. In such conditions, caring for the protection of children and their basic rights is a big challenge. Komercijalna banka, in the spirit of its corporate motto “It’s easier together”, believes that all social actors who can contribute should be involved in this kind of projects. We are ready to give our contribution to as few missing children as possible and to find them as soon as possible, while we sincerely wish that there will never be a need to turn on the Amber Alert in the country, said Spasijka Eftimoska.

Sasho Rajchanovski, president of the Group of auto taxi transport of the City of Skopje, member of the Traffic Council of the City of Skopje and owner of the first private taxi company Kommak-komerc Skopje, welcomed the initiative and promotion of the website and confirmed that it is their social responsibility to join the efforts to find missing children and share the information through their network when there is urgent need.

-As always, we constantly advocate for greater safety of the citizens, we gave suggestions and ideas about reducing pollution and traffic jams, minimum 1500 new jobs, increasing the budget, etc. Now, through the media, we are making suggestions about protection, prevention and reduction of violence, crime, robberies, kidnappings, disobeying traffic regulations…The fact is that almost all participants in various crimes, crimes, thefts, robberies, abductors, traffic violators, missing persons, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, etc. are transported by vehicles or as pedestrians are direct participants in the traffic and from here I take the right to discuss this – Rajcanoski said.

Regarding the protection and prevention of the above-mentioned acts, it is important to do something to protect ourselves and to deter and discourage the perpetrators from engaging in illegal acts, because they will know in advance that they will be discovered and sanctioned very quickly. His suggestions are mandatory installation of cameras on every building, schools, kindergartens, institutions, etc… and mandatory in all registered vehicles in the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia that will record outside the vehicle and the recordings will be accepted as part of evidence.  Since it is nothing new, it works flawlessly in some countries, cameras record a public area (no violation of privacy) as well as the ones we now have at intersections, boulevards, etc. This way of using cameras in vehicles creates a serious problem for those who want to commit an illegal act, because they are aware that they will be discovered very quickly. This is the future, we know who won’t like it, but we all need to put a lot of pressure together to accept something like this, which is the pinnacle of prevention and safety for all citizens, he said.

Sasho Negrievski, Personal data protection officer, Public traffic company JSP Skopje welcomed the establishment of the EWS for missing children and expressed the full support in its’ functioning. As he said JSP will share the information of missing children in the busses on the digital displays as well as the electronic platforms at bus stops in Skopje, informing the public and helping spread the information in order to find the missing child as soon as possible. This is a good initiative that all responsible businesses and other stakeholders in the country should support since it is obligation of all of us to guarantee the safety of our children, Negrievski said.

Krste Blazevski, president of HOTAM – Association of hotels, restaurants, and cafes, also welcomed the estabishement of the website and confirmed their support in spreading the information of a missing child through the network of HOTAM, this way helping the search and making sure the child is safely and quickly found. As he said, this is a system that functions well in many countries in the world and it is good that an NGO initiative is being supported by the institutions and the businesses should support it massively as well so the system can be long-lasting and well-functioning.

At the end organizers thanked all participants in the project activities in the past two and a half years, said that the recommendations will be shared with the institutions and with all the stakeholders, and called all institutions, businesses, experts, to continue and grow their support of the alert system to reduce the risk of missing children and speed up the process of finding them and returning them safely.