What governments need to know about vulnerability to trafficking among the people fleeing the war in Ukraine

Policy Brief

Published September 2022

Summary

The war in Ukraine has been raging for six months. The number of people who have fled the war in Ukraine only to Europe has passed 6.3 million while more than 6.6 million were displaced internally within Ukraine. A considerable number of countries, first and foremost Ukraine’s neighbouring countries, but also other countries, including EU members that have been most affected by the influx of people fleeing the war, have made significant efforts to respond to their arrival.

So far, the incidence of human trafficking cases among those fleeing the war in Ukraine has remained insignificant. Still, people who fled the conflict are seeing their personal resources (be of financial or emotional nature) depleted with grimmer perspectives. As their displacement protracts, their vulnerability to exploitation, including trafficking, increases. These vulnerabilities need to be addressed now to avert the descent of a secondary crisis among displaced populations in their host communities later on. The persisting nature of the risks is well illustrated e.g. by ‘huge spikes’ in online searches across multiple languages and countries for explicit content and sexual services from Ukrainian women and girls (OSCE, 2022). 

The existing research by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) has demonstrated how people fleeing the conflict become vulnerable to human trafficking.

In this Policy Brief, we examine the nature of these vulnerabilities and provide guidance as to where the countries hosting the people displaced by the war need to invest their attention and efforts to tackle the increased dangers of human trafficking.

The Policy Brief was prepared by the Anti-trafficking Programme of ICMPD in the framework of the “Prague Process: Dialogue, Analyses and Training in Action” initiative, a component of the Migration Partnership Facility, with the assistance of the European Union.

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and in no way represent the views of the European Union.

Anti-Trafficking Programme /our-work/capacity-building/anti-trafficking-programme
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ICMPD responds to the Ukraine refugee situation

Released 09 March 2022

ICMPD has a long-standing cooperation with Ukraine dating back to 1995. Numerous joint projects were implemented, cooperation is ongoing on multilateral and bilateral levels and in 2021 the ICMPD Kyiv Office was established. ICMPD is thus closely monitoring the developments in Ukraine. Due to the security situation, the ICMPD office has been temporarily closed. The project teams continue their work from other duty stations whenever possible. Below, we are gathering our policy, research, and capacity-building activities to reflect ICMPD's ongoing engagement in Ukraine.

Marking the 16th EU Anti-Trafficking Day

Released 19 October 2022

As a Secretariat of the Network of Anti-Trafficking Coordinators in South-East Europe (NATC SEE), ICMPD supports the Slovenian chairmanship of the Network to mark the EU Anti-trafficking day. The Network issued a Joint Statement addressing the vulnerability of the millions affected by the war in Ukraine to exploitation, abuse and human trafficking.

STRIVE Study - The Strength to Carry On - Resilience and Vulnerability to Trafficking and Other Abuses among People Travelling along Migration Rout...

Study

Published February 2019

North Macedonia / Serbia / Greece / Bulgaria / Hungary / Germany / Italy

#Trafficking in Human Beings #Prevention #Anti-Trafficking Policy #Trafficking Network #Human Trafficking #Victim Identification

Citation

Healy, Claire (2019). The Strength to Carry On: Resilience and Vulnerability to Trafficking and Other Abuses among People Travelling along Migration Routes to Europe. Vienna: ICMPD.

STRIVE Briefing Paper - The Strength to Carry On - Resilience and Vulnerability to Trafficking and Other Abuses among People Travelling along Migra...

Document

Published April 2019

North Macedonia / Serbia / Bulgaria / Greece / Hungary / Italy / Germany

#Anti-Trafficking Policy #Human Trafficking #Anti-Trafficking Protocol #Trafficking in Human Beings

Citation

Healy, Claire (2019). The Strength to Carry On: Resilience and Vulnerability to Trafficking and Other Abuses among People Travelling along Migration Routes to Europe – Briefing Paper. Vienna: ICMPD.

Lack of “viable alternatives” leads to exploitation of Syrians

Released 09 December 2015

New ICMPD study on the impact of the Syrian war and refugee situation on trafficking in persons in the region makes recommendations on how to address vulnerability.

Displaced people from Ukraine receive assistance through the CareFor project in Moldova

Released 12 September 2022

Amidst the humanitarian crisis caused by the protracted war in neighbouring Ukraine, the displaced people fleeing to Moldova are in continuous need of assistance. In cooperation with the National Congress of Ukrainians in Moldova, the CareFor project supports the work of one of the Temporary Reception Centres in Chisinau.

Information session about the EU Solidarity with Ukraine: protecting people fleeing the war

Released 19 May 2022

On 19 May 2022 in Brussels, Belgium, an information session on “EU Solidarity with Ukraine: protecting people fleeing the war” was held by the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs and the Mission of Ukraine to the EU. ICMPD, represented by Lukas Gehrke, is honoured to have been a part of it.

The war in Ukraine and the renaissance of temporary protection - why this might be the only way to go

Released 02 March 2022

This Thursday, 3 March 2022, an Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council meeting is expected to vote on a proposal by the European Commission to activate the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive for the first time for people fleeing the war in Ukraine. There are good reasons to do so. 

What Makes People Resilient to Human Trafficking along Migration Routes to Europe?

Released 03 April 2019

The best way to understand the situation on migration routes to Europe is to listen to people who have made the journey. Our latest research study, “The Strength to Carry On - Resilience and Vulnerability to Trafficking and Other Abuses among People Travelling along Migration Routes to Europe”, analyses people’s resilience and vulnerabilities to human trafficking and other abuses in this context. The research found that understanding factors of resilience can help to prevent trafficking, and that resilience can be boosted or compromised by migration policies and practices. 

Vulnerabilities to trafficking among people fleeing the Syrian conflict

Released 31 July 2016

Speech held by Martijn Pluim, ICMPD Director of Eastern Dimension, on 25 July 2016 on the occasion of Vienna Human Trafficking Event at the UNODC.

Time to plan for victim support countermeasures amid the continuing pandemic

Released 28 July 2020

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic many organisations sounded the alarm for protecting the rights of the most vulnerable categories of population, including victims of human trafficking. With little tangible data available at the time of the outbreak, now is the right time to take stock of the impact and plan the next steps.

COVID-19 & MIGRATION - Time to plan for victim support countermeasures amid the continuing pandemic

Released 28 July 2020

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic many organisations sounded the alarm for protecting the rights of the most vulnerable categories of population, including victims of human trafficking. With little tangible data available at the time of the outbreak, now is the right time to take stock of the impact and plan the next steps.

Temporary protection /our-work/policy-and-research/policy/temporary-protection
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New research: How are the war in Syria and the refugee crisis affecting human trafficking?

Released 14 January 2016

ICMPD’s new study finds that Syrian refugees are often trafficked or exploited because they are not able to meet their basic needs. To prevent this, investment in infrastructure and humanitarian aid in the main hosting countries is essential.

Identify – Refer – Protect – Build Resilience to Human Trafficking

Released 18 October 2019

On the occasion of EU Anti-Trafficking Day, 18 October 2019, ICMPD’s Anti-Trafficking Programme stresses the importance of national and regional cooperation and referral to build people’s resilience to human trafficking and ensure an adequate response to trafficking cases.

ICAT: Swift response to conflicts critical to preventing human trafficking

Released 08 November 2022

On 4 October 2022, the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), chaired by ICMPD, met with the European Union Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Diane Schmitt, to exchange on policy matters and strengthen cooperation to counter conflict-related human trafficking.

The Strength to carry on - Resilience and Vulnerability to trafficking on Migration routes to Europe

Policy Brief

Published April 2019

Addressing Vulnerability to Trafficking in Persons (ICAT)

Document

Published June 2022

Summary

The purpose of this ICAT brief is to shed light on the concept of vulnerability and the different dimensions and factors that make a person vulnerable to trafficking in persons while providing recommendations to relevant stakeholders in addressing those factors and mitigating the related risks.

Citation

Author: Inter-Agency Coordination Group against TIP (ICAT)

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