16 October 2020
As socioeconomic challenges and psychosocial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic make people more vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation, IOM Ukraine releases an online quest to help Ukrainians be better informed about safe travel and employment.
The quest, developed with funding from the Government of Japan, was presented by IOM on the eve of 18 October, the EU Anti-Trafficking Day.
The 30-minute virtual adventure allows the users check what could happen if they sign a contract without reading it, agree to take parcels from a stranger when flying abroad, hand their passport over to their employer, accept or reject a number of other risky offers during their journey. The quest is a multiple scenario game, reflecting key gender, age, and professional aspects. Upon its completion, the users get an analysis of their decisions made during the game and receive information about safe travel and employment rules. They are also referred to the IOM-supported Counter-Trafficking and Migrant Advice Hotline 527 and www.worksafe.org.ua websites for further information.
The IOM-supported All-Ukrainian Counter-Trafficking NGO coalition reports that despite COVID-19-related border closures and movement restrictions, migration intentions of groups susceptible to the risk of trafficking remain high.
“When official opportunities for employment abroad shrink, criminals are keen to benefit from the situation,” said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine. “We already witness an increase in sales of forged invitations from employers as well as in other types of fraud. We should act immediately to raise awareness about human trafficking and exploitation and to prevent Ukrainians from risky behaviours,” he added.
The reason for choosing the online quest format for human trafficking prevention efforts was the fact that during the quarantine people spend more time surfing the web. At the same time, having assisted over 800 victims of trafficking in the first half of 2020, IOM Ukraine sees that the recruitment through the Internet starts growing.
The quest will be advertised online, including on the key job search websites, and promoted in partnership with government stakeholders such as the Ministry of Social Service of Ukraine and the State Employment Service with the financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and USAID.
The IOM Ukraine Counter-Trafficking (CT) Programme was launched in 1998 to support government and civil society efforts to combat trafficking in human beings and to ensure victims’ access to assistance and justice at the community, regional and national level. IOM Ukraine has been assisting trafficking victims in the country for 22 years, and over 17,500 victims have received medical, psychosocial and legal assistance, vocational training and equipment to help them start their life again. IOM runs an economic empowerment programme that over the course of the years enabled access to vocational training and income-generating activities for thousands of victims of trafficking, internally displaced persons, and returned migrant workers.