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Project News: new anti-trafficking research discussed at Transnational Seminar in Vienna

20 March 2018


The years 2015-2016 saw an unprecedented increase in the numbers of people travelling by sea and overland along the migration routes to the European Union, with a total of almost one and a half million people irregularly entering EU countries.

Trafficking and exploitation are a major cause for concern among migrants on the move to Europe  but the number of victims who are actually formally identified remains extremely low, as shown by a recent study conducted by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) along the Western Balkans route.

According to the study “Trafficking along Migration Routes to Europe”, one of the main problems is that anti-trafficking procedures are not always integrated into the existing reception and asylum procedures  for new arrivals. The research also highlighted that in the context of the Balkan route, trafficking is often related to migrant smuggling, with exploitation taking place because people are in debt to smugglers, and because smugglers request increasing amounts of money for their services. Distinguishing between smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings is often very difficult, but so is understanding where they overlap, which makes identifying trafficked people and referring them for assistance more challenging.

Lastly, the study found that when a victim of trafficking is identifed among migrants, national anti-trafficking systems often struggle to respond to their specific needs as they are still mostly geared towards responding to the needs of other categories of victims - i.e. European or Sub-Saharan African adult women who are victims of sexual exploitation.

The study was carried out in the framework of the EU-funded project “Trafficking along Migration Routes (TRAM): Identification and Integration of Victims of Trafficking among Vulnerable Groups and Unaccompanied Children”, aiming at supporting and enabling the early identification, referral, protection and rehabilitation of trafficked people along migration routes. The research assessment was carried out in Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Serbia and Sweden. The project is co-funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and is implemented by ICMPD in partnership with the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat (CBSS); the Greek National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA); the Bulgarian National Commission to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings (NCCTHB); La Strada International (LSI); and Terre des hommes (Tdh).

The research findings were discussed and validated today, 20 March 2018, in Vienna, by migration and anti-trafficking stakeholders from the 8 countries under study and by representatives of international organisations in the framework of a Transnational Seminar. After feedback has been collected, and the research findings validated, the research assessment will be published as a regional report: Trafficking along Migration Routes to Europe – Bridging the Gap between Migration, Asylum and Anti-Trafficking in May this year.