Combating Human Trafficking

IOM Ukraine's art installation "Invisible in Plain Sight', telling real stories of victims of trafficking, in Odesa, summer 2015. The art installation has been demonstrated in nine regions of Ukraine.


Ukraine is a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking in men, women and children. Internal trafficking is also a growing problem. According to a research commissioned by IOM, over 160,000 Ukrainians became victims to human trafficking since 1991, which makes Ukraine one of the largest source country for trafficking in human beings in Europe.

The IOM Ukraine Counter Trafficking (CT) Programme was launched in 1998, with a strategy to support government and civil society efforts to combat trafficking in human beings and to ensure victims’ access to assistance and justice. IOM follows a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to tackle the problem of human trafficking, working in four interrelated areas:

1. Prevention and advocacy

IOM places special emphasis on preventing human trafficking in cooperation with government agencies from the social and education systems, law enforcement, other international organizations as well as a network of civil society organizations throughout Ukraine.

IOM raises awareness and informs about the risks of falling victim of trafficking through special information campaigns targeting the general population, specific risk groups, youth, unidentified victims as well as state and non-government professionals who might be in contact with potential victims, a National Counter-Trafficking and Migrant Advice Hotline 527 (which provides over 18,000 consultations annually), advocacy trainings for NGOs and journalists, development of educational materials for secondary schools and universities, and various other innovative methods.  527 Hotline statistic, January-June 2016.

2. Prosecution and Criminalization  

In order to enhance the access of victims of trafficking to justice, IOM provides comprehensive capacity building services to the criminal justice chain in Ukraine, including the police, investigators, prosecutors, and the judiciary system as such. This includes thematic trainings, technical assistance, networking with countries of transit and destination, capacity building in the sphere of mutual legal assistance, resource management, provision of equipment, strengthening victim/witness protection mechanisms and other. IOM also partners with the State Migration Service and State Border Guard Service of Ukraine to enhance the identification of potential trafficking victims, both Ukrainian and foreign, at the country’s borders and to improve the cooperation with specialized police units.

3. Protection and Reintegration

IOM Ukraine started assisting Ukrainians who had become victims of trafficking (VoTs) in 2000. Together with a network of partner NGOs throughout Ukraine, from January 2000 to June 2016 IOM provided comprehensive reintegration assistance to more than 12,000 VoTs, which, depending on the individual needs of each beneficiary, includes legal consultation and representation in criminal and civil court; medical care, psychological counselling, shelter, vocational training, small-grant programme supporting those trafficking survivors who aspire to set-up their own business and other forms of assistance. More than 420 VoTs have benefited from IOM’s Micro-Enterprise Development Programme, setting up 285 micro-enterprises and creating approximately 370 new jobs. Since 2002, IOM operates a Medical Rehabilitation Centre, the only one of its kind in Ukraine, where comprehensive medical care and psychological assistance are provided to beneficiaries free of charge in a safe and confidential manner. From 2002 to June 2016, obout 3,000 victims benefited from the Centre’s services.

IOM also supports further geographical expansion and strengthening of the National Referral Mechanism for Assisting Victims of Trafficking, established in Ukraine in 2012. 

4. Partnership is the basis of all of IOM’s counter-trafficking efforts. Working with a growing circle of partners, including various government agencies, international organizations, civil society, private companies and individuals and facilitating cooperation among them is the key to effective action against human trafficking in Ukraine and to greater national input and ownershipThe IOM Mission in Ukraine coordinates prevention and awareness raising activities with the Counter-Trafficking Coalition of 31 NGOs.

Statistics on combating trafficking in human beings in Ukraine, June 2016

Photos of IOM Ukraine's counter-trafficking activities





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