TIRANA (SeeNews) – The US Agency for International Development has granted $105,500 (88,000 euros) to non-governmental organizations in Albania’s northern region of Shkoder to back the country’s fight against human trafficking. The grants have been allocated under the USAID/Albania anti-trafficking project, called The Albanian Initiative: Coordinated Action Against Human Trafficking (CAAHT). «The purpose of these grants is to enable the citizens and government officials of Shkoder prefecture to more effectively combat the trafficking of human beings and to better assist children, girls and women who have become the victims of this terrible crime,» CAAHT said in a statement sent to SeeNews yesterday. The Shkoder region is one of the poorest in Albania. Due to its location close to the border with Montenegro, it has been identified as one of the new trafficking routes. «It has been identified as an area where parts of its population might be exposed to trafficking or other forms of exploitation,» CAAHT local program coordinator, Dolor Tozaj, told SeeNews. The aid is part of the 20 grants worth a total of $2.1 million that have been distributed to local NGOs for their anti-trafficking activities. Twelve grants worth $1.4 million had been allocated as of this June. The three-year CAAHT initiative (www.caaht.com), launched in 2004, aims to strengthen the capacity and participation of Albania’s civil society toward the elimination of trafficking of human beings in Albania.