UN Migration Agency Works with Governments in Eastern Europe

UN Migration Agency Works with Governments in Eastern Europe on Ethical Recruitment, Preventing Exploitation

Washington, D.C. – The UN Migration Agency (IOM) joined InterAction’s 2017 Forum bringing leading professionals from international development and humanitarian to Washington, D.C., on 20–22 June. InterAction is the US’s largest consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations focused on disaster relief and sustainable development.

During the Forum, IOM’s Assistance to Vulnerable Migrants Unit hosted a breakout session to discuss trafficking in emergency settings.
Moderated by Rick Sandoval – a veteran immigration journalist and director of 100 Reporters Agency – the panel offered an exchange of ideas and an opportunity to compare best practices in responding to trafficking and exploitation during emergency crises.

Human trafficking and exploitation often are direct consequences of crises and not mere byproducts, explained Michela Macchiavello, IOM Specialist, Assistance to Vulnerable Migrants Unit, who cited an IOM study published in 2015. Macchiavello stressed that both human trafficking and exploitation can be “a matter of life and livelihood for victims. For this reason, they need to be given from the outset as much priority as any other crisis response.”

Following the recommendations of this study, IOM is now developing a Global Strategy to fight trafficking and exploitation in crisis. This will allow actors to address such crimes systematically and strengthen IOM’s capacity as well as the ability of first responders, from both the humanitarian and development communities, to respond to these violations in the future.

Too often, victims might not be visible at the beginning of the crisis. One reason for this: the destruction of traditional protection mechanisms that hold sway before a crisis. Therefore, it is vital to start addressing the issue even when victims are not yet visible.

“Victims will surface possibly a few weeks or months into the crisis but by then it may be too late to help them! Larger numbers of victims will have been affected by trafficking, some beyond recovery, and the crime will have expanded much more than if we had acted at the very outset of the crisis,” explained Macchiavello.

Authorities also have key roles to play in mitigating trafficking during crises. “We encourage governments to build the necessary foundations to combat trafficking and to raise awareness of human trafficking indicators among first responders before a crisis hits,” said Greg Hermsmeyer, Senior Coordinator for International Programs, US Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP).
He added: “In the wake of a disaster, we recommend that governments immediately implement screening measures without waiting for evidence of trafficking, which takes too long.”
The Department of State’s TIP Office has funded numerous IOM projects on counter-trafficking and exploitation in areas affected by conflict and crisis, including in the Philippines post-Hurricane Haiyan, in the Balkans, and in several African countries.

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) has been protecting and assisting victims of trafficking since the mid-nineties. By the end of 2016, it had assisted close to 90,000 victims worldwide.

Despite efforts by the humanitarian and development communities to address trafficking in situations of crisis, more needs to be done.

“There is a protection gap in the current UN response system through which the needs of the victims of trafficking remain unaddressed. This is why activities addressing human trafficking and exploitation of migrants and refugees need to be included systematically in humanitarian responses to crises,” IOM’s Macchiavello concluded.

For further information, please contact Hajer Naili, IOM Washington. Tel: +1 202 568 3757, Email: hnaili@iom.int

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