Protecting Vulnerable Children and Youth in Ukraine from Trafficking

24 April 2019

Most of the vulnerable children and youth in Ukraine are gradually becoming aware of the dangers of human trafficking. Over three years, the share of those aware of at least one type of modern slavery has grown from 79 per cent to 85 per cent. However, 66 per cent of vulnerable children and youth from 13 to 20 are ready to accept at least one offer that may lead them to falling prey to traffickers.

The results of a representative survey of eleven vulnerable groups of children and youth*, as well as expert interviews with representatives of organizations that work with these groups, conducted by GfK Ukraine for IOM, the UN Migration Agency, Mission in Ukraine, with funding from Global Affairs Canada, have been presented in Kyiv on 24 April.

The survey covered orphans; children from foster families and family-type homes; children with disabilities; children in centres for social and psychological rehabilitation; children in difficult life circumstances; homeless children; children registered at centres of juvenile probation; young people in penitentiaries; vocational school students; children displaced from the conflict zone, and children of labour migrants.

Among the respondents, young people aged 14–20 and detained in penitentiaries revealed the highest propensity to accept at least one proposal that may lead to human trafficking (96 per cent), with high rates also discovered among children registered in juvenile probation centres (86 per cent), and homeless children (81 per cent). Most often, the surveyed vulnerable children and youth were ready to agree to work without official employment in another settlement (up to 74 per cent among different groups); to run suspicious or illegal work that is well paid (up to 63 per cent); to work in another country without official employment (up to 60 per cent); to try drugs (up to 49 per cent); to visit stranger’s homeplace or get in a stranger’s car (up to 46 per cent), to borrow a big sum of money (up to 45 per cent).

Based on its regular surveys, IOM works on trafficking prevention among vulnerable children and youth. "We observe that despite the propensity for risky behaviour, the awareness of human trafficking risks has increased significantly compared to 2015, when the previous similar study was conducted, in particular, from 82 per cent to 97 per cent among youth detained in penitentiaries, and from 78 per cent to 87 per cent among the students of vocational schools. Also, these groups have become much more aware of how to avoid the risky situations: 34 per cent vs. 14 per cent among young people in penitentiaries, and 42 per cent vs. 27 per cent among students of vocational schools,” said Olga Streltsova, IOM Ukraine’s Counter-Trafficking Policy and Programme Specialist. "At the same time, under dangers of the social environment, children and youth tend to a risky behaviour, therefore it is important to continue the systematic targeted work on trafficking prevention among vulnerable children and youth as well as among the general population aged 13–20 years in Ukraine," Olga Streltsova added.

Last year, IOM Ukraine identified and assisted 86 children who had suffered from forced labour and sexual exploitation, forced begging and exploitation in criminal activities. IOM also provided assistance to children from high-risk groups to prevent them from trafficking. The number is more than twice higher compared to 2017. "Such increase in identification is a result of targeted efforts and extended capacity of governmental and non-governmental agencies to identify and assist these children," said Olga Streltsova.

At the presentation of the trafficking awareness survey Nataliia Fedorovych, Deputy Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, thanked IOM for its work and highlighted the importance of using IOM’s survey results when planning activities of the stakeholders involved in countering trafficking in children in Ukraine.


* The survey was conducted in JuneJuly 2018 via face-to face interviews in all regions of Ukraine, excluding Crimea and the non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. 2,400 children and young people from vulnerable groups, as well as 600 children and young people of the representative sample of the population aged 13–20 years were interviewed.

For additional information please contact Varvara Zhluktenko, IOM Ukraine,, +38 044 568 5015, +38 067 447 97 92.