Ukrainians exposed to new threats of human trafficking

Kyiv, 18 October 2013

Ukrainians are increasingly at risk of becoming exposed to human trafficking threats, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports on the European Anti-Slavery Day. According to a recent survey, commissioned by IOM and conducted by GfK Ukraine in September this year*, 9 per cent of Ukrainians claim that they, their relatives or friends were facing situations or attempts of trafficking in human beings. Two years ago, when a previous survey was conducted with the same methodology, 7 per cent claimed encountering such situations.

The recent poll results confirmed that modern-day slavery in Ukraine has many forms. Some respondents reported situations or attempts of more than one type of exploitation. Six (6) per cent mentioned situations or attempts of trafficking for forced labour faced by them, their relatives or friends; 2 per cent reported cases or attempts of sexual exploitation; and up to one per cent each for trafficking for forced begging or criminal activities, for organ removal, and for trafficking in children for forced labour, begging or pornography.

According to the estimates, over 120,000 Ukrainians have suffered from human trafficking since the beginning of 1990s. Trends have changed over recent years, with every second victim identified and assisted by IOM today having suffered from labour exploitation, mainly in the Russian Federation and Poland. Trafficking within and to Ukraine is also becoming a challenge. Men are increasingly at risk of being exploited, and have been traditionally less inclined to seek help. However in 2012, for the first time ever, more men (56%) than women (44%) turned for assistance to IOM Ukraine.

In 2011-2012, the IOM Mission in Ukraine and its partner non-governmental organizations provided medical, psychological, legal and social assistance to about 900 trafficking survivors annually. From January through mid-October this year, over 640 people have been included into reintegration programmes by IOM and its partners.

"Having assisted over 9,000 victims of trafficking since 2000, IOM Ukraine is committed to further supporting the Ukrainian Government in the implementation of a state-led mechanism for helping trafficking survivors," IOM Ukraine's Chief of Mission Manfred Profazi states. "With criminals inventing new schemes and new challenges appearing in the fight against modern-day slavery, victims of trafficking should continue being the focus of all we do."

Ukrainians also feel more vulnerable to the risks of human trafficking than two years ago. In 2011, 70 per cent of the population excluded outright the possibility that they personally might ever be at risk of being trafficked. Today this perception is shared by 59 per cent of those surveyed.

"An increase in the awareness of the threats of modern-day slavery is a positive tendency, and to some extent a result of prevention campaigns IOM and others conduct, as a few years ago Ukrainians tended to underestimate the dangers," says Manfred Profazi. "However, the facts and figures we get from the surveys, as well as from our daily work in the reintegration of victims of trafficking, show that the threats are also growing."

*The research on awareness of Ukrainian citizens' on different forms of human trafficking was carried out in September 2013 via personal interviews. Research sample makes up 1,000 respondents, representing Ukrainian population by gender, age, and places of residence.

 For further information please contact IOM Ukraine Communications Officer Varvara Zhluktenko (568 50 15, 067 447 97 92,