Empowering Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine to assist victims of trafficking

Participants from Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, the EU countries and the U.S. shared experiences of establishing sustainable state-led national referral mechanisms for assisting victims of trafficking at a conference organized to mark the conclusion of the Danish-funded and IOM-administered Programme Against Human Trafficking in Eastern and South Eastern Europe*.

The Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) has been funding counter-trafficking activities in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova for the past eight years. IOM has been the managing partner since the start of the programme in 2006.

“Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova have done a lot over these years, but with new trafficking trends appearing it is not the time to rest on laurels. As the criminal world invents new schemes, we had to focus on the sustainability of the national referral mechanism in order to be able to assist victims of trafficking,” stated Anna Kiertzner from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department for European Neighbourhood.

“The hope of the Danish MFA and IOM is to see that what has been built to date continues to function once the Danish support is phased out. The national referral mechanisms in three countries have reached a point in their development where they can no longer be reversed, meaning that the investment of Denmark of close to DKK 70 million, as well as the hard work of all project partners had real impact,” stated IOM Ukraine’s Chief of Mission Manfred Profazi.

The Director of the Department for Gender Policy of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine Halyna Zhukovska underlined “the fruitful cooperation with the Danish MFA, IOM, OSCE, LaStrada and All-Ukrainian Counter-Trafficking Coalition within the programme”. She informed the audience that since the launch of the national referral mechanism in Ukraine a year ago 47 victims of trafficking were granted official status and are now receiving state-led assistance.

Conference participants shared best practices of feeding the results of monitoring and evaluation into the national referral mechanisms, discussed effective ways of building partnerships between Governments and NGOs, and outlined the grounds for sustainability of the state-led protection of trafficking survivors.

*The programme’s objectives are to help ensure that 1) the relevant primary and secondary legislative framework for the national referral mechanism for the victims of trafficking is in line with international; 2) sufficient human and institutional capacities to identify and assist trafficking survivors within governmental and non-governmental stakeholders are developed; 3) external and internal monitoring and evaluation and quality assurance systems are in place. The programme works through a number of international and national partners, namely IOM Missions and national members of LaStrada NGO network in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. In Ukraine, OSCE Project Co-ordinator is also an implementing partner. The IOM Mission in Ukraine acts as the Programme Administrator. These partners cooperate with national governmental and non-governmental stakeholders for the implementation of the programme’s objectives.