News & Events

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly designated the 30th of July as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons to raise awareness about the severity of human rights violations that trafficking victims endure and acknowledge that human trafficking is a crime that affects all countries in the world.

At the International Organization for Migration (IOM), we have developed a global database to identify trends related to migration and human trafficking. IOM’s global data on human trafficking suggests that all countries are – to different degrees – countries of destination, transit and origin. It also shows that human trafficking is characterized by super-diversity, very much as recent global migration patterns are considered to be. This brings numerous challenges but also a common goal for countries to cooperate in a pragmatic way to fight human trafficking.

IOM is the lead agency in the protection and provision of assistance to victims of trafficking. It has the world’s largest database on victims of human trafficking. The data recorded by IOM is based on its direct assistance of victims by IOM missions working in the field globally. In the past year, IOM has improved its capacity to collect more and better victim data and it aims to provide wider, appropriate public access to information on human trafficking.

Since last year, another important step in the field of human trafficking has been taken: the global work on poverty and inequality was enhanced by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda for the next fifteen years includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 associated targets.

Migration (including human trafficking) is for the first time included on such a global agenda, and it can be found in the targets of four SDGs. The inclusion of human trafficking on the global agenda with the follow-up that will see the establishment of national frameworks to achieve the SDGs is another important acknowledgement that human trafficking and migration more broadly need specialized responses at local, national, regional and global level. For example, Goal 16 refers to the prevention and eradication of trafficking in children, while Goal 5 similarly includes the goal of eradicating trafficking of women and girls. Decent work and ethical recruitment, promoted by Goal 8, are also important in the fight against labour exploitation and trafficking for domestic servitude.

The upcoming national strategies to combat human trafficking and alleviate poverty need to be based on evidence. IOM, as the leading migration agency and as an organization that offers direct assistance to trafficked persons and vulnerable migrants, is well placed to offer such evidence. In addition, IOM’s unparalleled database on trafficking in human beings can provide quality data to inform policy-makers, researchers, the public and other stakeholders.

To mark the 2016 World Day against Trafficking in Persons, IOM’s Migrant Assistance Division (MAD) has released data on the profile of victims of trafficking assisted by the Organization over the past ten years, and data on regional trafficking corridors from 2015. The infographic accompanying this article is an example of that.

IOM has a dedicated page for the 30th of July which outlines the current IOM campaigns across the globe raising awareness about human trafficking.

IOM will strengthen its position as an information hub for human trafficking data through its human trafficking data platform that is being established with partners. The platform will bring together and visualize a range of datasets on human trafficking in one open, online resource, addressing the need for up-to-date, comprehensive and reliable data on human trafficking.

Another recent IOM initiative in the counter-trafficking field is the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevalence Indication Survey on the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes. This is a unique set of reports in the context of the migration and refugee crisis, with findings that attempt to quantify the vulnerabilities of migrants and the risks that they face on the journey to Europe. The most recent report can be found here with further reports to be published on the IOM’s Migration flows to Europe page.

While there have been advances in the attempt to challenge human trafficking practices across the globe, more efforts will be needed to build the knowledge base on human trafficking to inform policy-making in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

By Eliza Galos, IOM Data Analyst on Human Trafficking, article first published in IOM's Migration Newsdesk.
Photo: Lambeth Palace in London, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, where a Syrian family has resettled through the UK community sponsorship scheme. Photo credit: Philip Toscano/PA

This week (Monday 25 July), the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, welcomed a family of Syrian refugees to his home in Lambeth Palace.

IOM has been providing assistance in the form of information sessions on Syria to help local authorities and sponsors understand Syrian culture and etiquette, the conditions facing many refugees prior to arrival in the UK, and the challenges they might face on arrival in the UK. To help prepare palace staff to understand and support the Syrian family, IOM was invited to Lambeth Palace to deliver an information session.

Archbishop Welby is the first to receive a refugee family through the UK’s community sponsorship scheme, launched by the Home Office earlier last week. IOM delivered an information session at Lambeth palace on Friday, with six palace officials and staff attending to better understand the needs and experiences of the Syrian family they had welcomed.

The community sponsorship scheme is a response to the strong interest shown by community groups like National Refugee Welcome Board, Citizens UK, and other grassroots organizations in helping Syrians resettle to the UK. In this scheme, community sponsors arrange housing, English language instruction, access to services, and job-search support for refugees.

While this may seem a daunting list of responsibilities for community groups relatively new to refugee resettlement, there is a network of support and guidance available to those interested in helping resettle refugees to the UK.

“It has been a great honour to welcome the family into Lambeth Palace,” said Mark Poulson, the Secretary for Inter-Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter-Religious Advisor for the Church of England. “We have all seen the images and stories of loss and violence in Syria, and to be able to help a family rebuild what war has taken from them is an enormous privilege. The information IOM provided to us has proven immensely helpful in bringing home the realities of this family’s experiences, and better prepares us for what lies ahead as they work to regain a sense of home in the UK.”

IOM, in partnership with the Home Office, provides cultural orientation sessions for Syrian refugees prior to their arrival in the UK, in addition to health assessments and escorts to ensure they travel safely and smoothly. Cultural orientation sessions are designed to enhance the refugee integration process by providing refugees with useful information about the UK. IOM has also found, however, that integration works best when both refugees and those receiving them into the community have a good understanding of each other’s expectations, cultural differences, and practices.

IOM, in consultation with the Local Government Association and the Regional Strategic Migration Partnership, has been offering information sessions on Syria to staff from local authorities and members of host communities throughout the UK since May of this year, reaching over 350 participants eager to support refugees through mutual understanding and respect.

For more information on the Home Office’s efforts, and instructions on how to apply, please visit this page.

For further information, please contact Mallory Carlson, IOM UK, Tel: + (44) 20 7811 6049; Email:

This year IOM became an official partner of Refugee Week in the UK, celebrating the contributions of refugees and marking the continued need for protection and support of forced migrants.

The theme for 2016’s Refugee Week was “Welcome”, with a variety of organizations hosting events and activities demonstrating the UK’s welcoming attitude toward refugees.

IOM partners the UK Home Office, providing pre-departure services to refugees coming to the UK. Prior to their arrival in the UK, IOM provides refugees with full medical checkups, travel documentation, cultural orientation and transport.

To mark Refugee Week and provide a genuine sense of welcome for refugees, IOM launched a call for Portraits of Welcome. In two separate Refugee Week events at the Southbank Centre and the British Museum in London, members of the public were invited to a story booth to provide a personal message of welcome for refugees and have their photograph professionally taken by artist Marcia Chandra.

Staff from IOM UK interviewed participants to collect their personal stories and ideas of welcome, and Marcia Chandra captured engaging portraits to put the faces to these stories. Portraits and accompanying quotes were printed on the spot for participants to take away with them and to add to a growing exhibition for the public.

These portraits will also be translated into Arabic and posted in the IOM run cultural orientation classrooms in the MENA region for Syrian refugees, providing them with a genuine sense of the welcoming community awaiting them in the UK.

“Portraits of Welcome” proved to be a highly popular event, collecting over 50 portraits from participants of all different backgrounds, and engaging the interest of countless others. IOM was therefore able to not only build a sense of community for refugees, but also raise awareness in the broader community of what they can do to help welcome refugees.

The portraits will also be posted online through the global IOM social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to be shared with the broader community.

For further information, please contact Nidaa Botmi at IOM UK, Tel: +44 207 811 6002, Email: