News & Events


The IOM Director General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), signed a cooperation agreement on June 30th between their respective organisations to strengthen their relationship and tackle human trafficking through awareness raising.

The event took place at the Archbishop’s House in London, following more than 5 years of cooperation between the IOM office in the United Kingdom and the CBCEW. The partnership began with a mutual understanding that raising awareness about human trafficking through training is key to ensuring that the practice is identified and eliminated. Empowering individuals, such as members of the clergy, school pupils, and the wider church community, allows individuals to understand the crime and its hidden and complex in nature, and to find ways to take action.

Through this partnership IOM has already delivered training to 400 people in coordination with CBCEW, and developed a training manual containing important information and educational exercises about the phenomenon of trafficking, how to identify it and how to make a referral for someone in need of help. The cooperation agreement will seek to enhance further collaborative work on these activities between the two organisations.

During the event held to mark the signing of the agreement, Ambassador Swing noted “IOM and the Catholic Church have a common goal, strengthened by an effective partnership, to raise these hidden victims from the shadows”. Cardinal Nichols reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s commitment to informing the clergy and the wider public of the causes and consequences of trafficking and celebrated the signing of the agreement as a way for relations to be strengthened globally between the church and IOM. He further noted that the agreement coincided with the forthcoming opening of the Bakhita Initiative to provide support and shelter to victims of trafficking.

For further information on IOM UK’s training initiatives, or our work with the Catholic Church and other faith bodies, please contact

In 2014, over 2,300 individuals were identified as victims of trafficking in the UK from over 96 different countries. Human trafficking is a hidden crime and one of the first steps to combating it is to identify victims so that they can be rescued and protected from further harm. As such, IOM UK has developed a short training course to help key professionals understand the indicators of human trafficking and how to take appropriate action when needed. In order to add weight and recognition to participants’ learning achievements, IOM UK has recently attained ‘Continual Professional Development (CPD) Accreditation’. CPD is used to ensure professionals remain effective and capable in employment. All participants will now receive a CPD training certificate, contributing towards their personal professional development.

The training programme has been running since 2011 with over 2000 individuals in the UK taking part, including front line practitioners, students and members of the public. To meet the varied requirements of attendees, IOM offers anything from half day to fast track courses lasting just one hour. Participants include social services personnel, local authority practitioners, healthcare professionals, police, immigration staff and teachers.

The programme provides an overview of human trafficking, including the definition, international and national legal frameworks, causes and consequences and indicators. It goes on to detail identification and the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), and ends with information on taking action, including maintaining a victim-centred approach and appropriate pathways for return and reintegration.

IOM has found that the multi-agency trainings work best; all trainings include group work and require active participation, and by inviting participants from a range of fields and sectors to a single training, light and shade is added to a vibrant group discussion. Antony Botting, the Modern Slavery Project Lead at Croydon Council, states, “The IOM have trained over 500 practitioners in Croydon, which has been very well received - statutory services and the voluntary sector have said that they benefitted from it. This is an essential component in the drive to improve the identification of suspected cases of human trafficking, which practitioners may encounter on a day to day basis”.

Training is an invaluable tool, unique in its ability to be both proactive and reactive. Those who have completed the course have been able to define the concept of trafficking and outline the general issues with regards to this, distinguish between trafficking and smuggling, recognise the impact of trafficking on victims, and identify possible indicators.

Training is high on the agenda of combatting trafficking. As outlined by the United States Trafficking in Persons Report, ‘Governments cannot sit back and wait for victims to self-identify; rather, they must proactively seek victims out by investigating high-risk sectors, screening vulnerable populations, and training relevant government officials to recognize trafficking when they see it1’. It is IOM’s hope that additional agencies and authorities will recognise the value of training those on the frontline; until those in position to identify are equipped to do so, victims will fall between the gaps into further exploitation.

For more information on the IOM training programme, please contact

On Saturday 6th June 2015, the Worldwide Somali Students & Professionals (WSSP), in collaboration with IOM, hosted the event “Brain Gain: Strengthening Somali Institutions and the Role of UK Diaspora Professionals” at University College London, to inform the UK’s Somali diaspora professionals about the Migration for Development (MIDA) Somalia programme.

The event marked the beginning of a pilot project which will see WSSP engaging their extensive network of Somali professionals in the UK, and further afield, to raise their awareness about opportunities to be involved in the strengthening of Somali institutions through the MIDA programme’s short-term assignments.

Over 100 Somali professionals attended the event where they had the opportunity to hear from the WSSP Executive Director, Kasim Ali, the IOM Somalia Chief of Mission, Gerard Waite, and the MIDA-Somalia Programme Manager, Frantz Celestin, about opportunities to apply for assignments to share their much-needed skills within Somali government institutions. “By strengthening the human resource capacity of key institutions, the Somali diaspora can play a crucial role in helping the country achieve its development goals” commented Kasim Ali. "Indeed, this project provides the structure for the Somali Diaspora to change the narrative on Somalia", added Frantz Celestin.

Gerard Waite noted that due to two decades of civil conflict, Somalia has seen a significant proportion of its population migrating to other countries which has significantly impacted the country for the past two decades. He welcomed the collaboration with WSSP as a key partner to improve the future of Somalia by tapping into the skills and cultural links of the diaspora in the UK.

Kasim Ali explained to participants that “as a global movement that exists to mobilise young Somalis to use their talents, work together and address the unmet needs of a proud nation, the WSSP is pleased to be help its members to be able to shape the future of Somalia”. He also informed the audience that the event was first of several outreach activities they will be implementing across the UK and targeting the Somali diaspora.

Frantz Celestin provided detailed information to those attending about the variety of assignments they could apply for, from health to public finance management, as well as the process they would need to follow to submit an application. While noting the challenges that they might face in participating in an assignment, audience members expressed their interest and readiness to look out for vacancies that met their skills and experience.

For information about the MIDA Somalia programme please visit or contact Frantz Celestin at

For further information about WSSP, please visit or contact Kasim Ali

The Diaspora Volunteering Alliance (DVA) hosted a one-day conference on “The Future of Diaspora Volunteering in Development” on Monday June 1st, with the support of AFFORD UK and IOM, at the Amnesty Human Rights Centre in London.

Opened by Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE, the first chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Diaspora, Development and Migration (APPGDDM), the event brought together diaspora groups, decision makers and volunteer-led organisations to discuss how opportunities from the current economic and social climate can be created to harness the potential of diaspora volunteering for development purposes.
The event was an opportunity to discuss the key challenges and opportunities present for diaspora groups and organisations to volunteer, and how such activities can contribute to the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Panellists included programme and campaigns specialists from the Danish Refugee Council, the Department for International Development, Bond, AFFORD and other diaspora-led organisations.

Tauhid Pasha, IOM’s Senior Specialist on Migration and Development, spoke of the importance of integrating diaspora partners into policy discussions to become full agents of development. “Diaspora organizations must be equipped to reach their full potential in order to engage effectively in development. We must understand who the diaspora are, how they operate and in what way they wish to engage.”

Tauhid cited the successful take-up of various IOM programmes, including the temporary return of qualified national’s project, which proves that there is a committed and highly-skilled diaspora that are willing and able to get involved in a more meaningful way. However, he reiterated that such projects, which seek to promote skills transfer and capacity building through the provision of technical expertise, must “go hand in glove with what is happening in the country, what the gaps and needs are, and how such activities fit within the national development strategies and framework.”

Mingo Heiduk-Tetsche of the Danish Refugee Council echoed this remark by pointing out that diaspora members should not replace the roles and skills of the population present in the country of origin and that “needs assessments are crucial to understanding how to operate in certain contexts.”

The afternoon portion of the event allowed for participants to break out into groups and practically discuss how to tackle some of the barriers facing diaspora organisations, such as diversifying funding for volunteer programmes and how to better engage with younger generations.

On the basis of the feedback received, DVA will develop an action plan for how its members and conference participants can influence and engage decision makers to recognise the impact of diaspora volunteering programmes, and offer more support.

The event closed with the launch of the DVA website and a presentation on the new strategy for Comic Relief’s Common Ground Initiative (CGI). CGI seeks to increase funding to and strengthen the capacity of diaspora organisations in order to create sustainable change for communities across Africa.