News & Events


There are specific risk factors associated with increased migrant vulnerability to exploitation, violence, abuse and human trafficking, according to a new report published yesterday (21/12) by IOM, the UN Migration Agency.

The report, titled Migrant Vulnerability to Human Trafficking and Exploitation: Evidence from the Central and Eastern Mediterranean Migration Routes, analyses quantitative data on vulnerability factors and personal experiences of abuse, violence, exploitation, and human trafficking collected over the past two years from 16,500 migrants in 7 countries. While other IOM reports have documented the scale of exploitation on the main migration routes to Europe, this report is the first to identify key factors associated with increased vulnerability to exploitation and human trafficking during the migration journey.

“The findings contribute to our understanding of the factors that contribute to migrants’ vulnerability to abuse, exploitation and trafficking,” said Anh Nguyen, IOM Head of Migrant Assistance Division. “It improves the evidence available for policies to better identify and protect vulnerable migrants on their journeys, in line with IOM’s determinants of migrant vulnerability model,” he added.

“This report illustrates the kind of analysis that can be done with a unique set of survey data collected by IOM. The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) plays a key role in providing a better understanding of the movements and evolving needs of mobile populations along the major migration corridors” said Nuno Nunes, DTM Global Coordinator.

The analysis found that migrants travelling the Central Mediterranean route are more vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking than migrants on the Eastern Mediterranean route, even when they share similar demographic and journey characteristics. Moreover, West Africans are more vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation than migrants from other countries. In general, the presence of conflict in the country of departure predicts a higher vulnerability to exploitation and human trafficking on the journey. Individuals who travel alone are more vulnerable than migrants who travel in groups. Also, the longer or more costly their journey, the more likely it is that a migrants will be exploited along the way. Male migrants are more likely to experience forced and unpaid labour, or being held against their will, than female migrants.

The report also found that the factors that predict child migrants’ vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation are similar to the factors associated with adult migrants’ vulnerability. In addition, migrants report that Libya is particularly unsafe, which is a major driver of onward migration towards what they perceive to be safer destinations.

This IOM analysis provides practical recommendations for improved programming along the main migration routes to Europe. These include the early identification and protection for all vulnerable migrants, taking into account the different risks that men, boys, women and girls may face during their journeys, and the different types of exploitation they may be subject to.

About the Determinants of Migrant Vulnerability Model

In 2016, IOM developed a framework for analyzing and responding to migrant vulnerability. This framework was specifically developed to address the protection and assistance needs of a specific sub-set of migrants: those who have experienced or are vulnerable to violence, abuse, or exploitation before, during, or after the migration process. It was also designed to be flexible enough to assess vulnerability of both individual migrants and migrant groups.

The framework differs from other conceptualizations of migrant vulnerability that focus on an individual migrant’s membership in a particular category, such as refugee, irregular migrant, or victim of trafficking, or on a single characteristic, such as age or sex. Rather, the determinants of migrant vulnerability framework looks at a range of factors at individual, household, community, and structural levels and assesses if these factors contribute to risk of, or protect against, violence, exploitation, or abuse within a migration context.
It considers the overall level of vulnerability of an individual migrant, or a migration-affected household, community, or group, to violence, abuse, or exploitation before, during, or after a migration process, or their ability to avoid, resist, cope with, or recover from such maltreatment, as the net impact of the interaction of these factors at different levels. It also considers the ways in which households, families, communities, and the state can mitigate vulnerability and reduce harm.

About DTM

The report findings are based on statistical models that use over 16,500 interviews with migrants. The data was collected through a network of field workers as part of IOM’s DTM flow monitoring operations in the Mediterranean, from December 2015 to November 2016.

The Flow Monitoring Survey on which the analysis of this report is based is a tool used by IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), a modular system developed by IOM, which tracks and monitors displacement and population mobility so that decision makers and responders can better understand the movements and needs of displaced people. The Flow Monitoring Survey unites two DTM components – the flow monitoring and the surveys. While flow monitoring aims to derive quantitative estimates of the flow of individuals through specific locations and to collect information about the profiles, intentions and needs of the people moving, the surveys component of DTM is used to enrich and complement the other components. It describes characteristics and provides a deeper understanding of populations of concern (such as internally displaced people, returnees, migrants).

For more information, please contact:
Jorge Galindo, IOM HQ, Tel: +41227179205, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Italy Spokesperson, Tel: +393470898996, Email:
Ivona Zakoska, DTM regional coordinator, or

Related documents:
Migrant Vulnerability to Human Trafficking and Exploitation: Evidence from the Central and Eastern Mediterranean route (Report)
A demonstrator marches to the Houses of Parliament, during a protest in support of refugees in London, September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love”, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) UK’s partner, the Mixed up Chorus Choir sings. It’s a cold night in a community hall in London. This is a non-auditioning choir: everyone is welcome, and everyone’s voice is valued, no matter how different it is, because when everyone sings together in harmony, a sweet symphony arises.

As the United Nations Migration Agency, we are celebrating the theme of integration to mark International Migrants Day this year in the UK. In recent times, communities have seen a widening gap between their native citizens and migrants. There is a fear of the “other” – the migrant – which prevents productive dialogue, both between and within groups. This fear risks further entrenching polarised views and moves us away from constructing a shared set of values and norms - ones that can be established through community activities fostering connection and integration.

This is by no means the first time the importance of shared interests and common ground for the successful integration of migrants has been pointed out. Choirs and sports, are excellent mechanisms for supporting positive relationships and building the basis of thriving multicultural communities. The New Mixed Up Chorus choir provides a platform for migrants to share their stories and express a community voice through music. Recent studies have suggested that choral singing promotes increased speed of social bonding, and is effective for bringing together large groups.

What more can we be doing to encourage the acknowledgement that we are in fact more similar than we might think? As MP Jo Cox so poignantly stated, “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”. Discussing the refugee situation in schools can ensure that our communities are more aware of the existing division. The British Red Cross has created resources to encourage primary school children to discuss their perception of refugees. At secondary level, students are encouraged to think about what it would be like to feel unsafe in their own homes and what they would take with them if they were forced to flee. Ideas such as these create a space in which we can educate the youngest members of our community how to respect migrants and alleviate fear of the “other”.

These activities and local integration policies can lay common foundations in our communities: assuring people that their way of life will not be eroded, while affording migrants the opportunity to engage, live in safety, and be included in their new home community. Existing research, including from the McKinsey Institute, University College London, OECD and the IMF posits that effectively managed migration presents advantages in fuelling social growth and innovation, economic gains, entrepreneurship, and improving living standards.[1] These reports highlight that focusing on long-term integration is vital.

City of Sanctuary, a grassroots movement, is building a network of towns throughout the UK which offer support to those in need of safety. By creating a sense of community and shared action, individuals are offered a safe space in which to confront their assumptions and fears of migration, and relate to the similarities between their own lives and the lives of others. Integration efforts however, come in more than one form. In November this year, IOM UK accompanied a group of refugees to a football match at Wembley Stadium. This served as an example of an existing community space that can provide a common purpose for integration. The results of using an existing communal atmosphere were incomparable.

A comprehensive approach by the government and society to integration is important for achieving successful outcomes that lead to strengthened social cohesion, greater economic activity and a win-win for the refugees and host societies. This International Migrants Day, we seek to celebrate these initiatives fostering integration and emphasise the need to continue to support these initiatives. Further development of a national integration strategy, and also more localised integration strategies supported by both government and community groups are therefore vital.

Opinion piece by Dipti Pardeshi, Chief of Mission at IOM UK, first published by Thomson Reuters Foundation News

[1] McKinsey Global Institute, ‘People on the Move: Global Migration’s Impact and Opportunity’, - J Woetzel et al, December 2016.
University College London, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini, “The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK”, Economic Journal, Vol.124, Issue 580, pages F593–F643, 2014.
OECD, Migration Policy Debates, ‘Is migration good for the economy?’, May 2014
International Monetary Fund, Spillover Taskforce, ‘Impact of Migration on Income Levels in Advanced Economies’ – Florence Jaumotte, Ksenia Koloskova, and Sweta C. Saxena, 2016.

IOM UK chaired the third national conference focusing on Improving Mental Health Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees, organised by Healthcare Conferences UK yesterday (07/12) in Manchester, United Kingdom.

The event, moderated by Amanda Salomonsson, IOM UK Project Officer and Lead for Mental Health & Psychosocial Response, brought together speakers from Doctors of the World UK, the British Red Cross, Mind, The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, and other services within NHS and the voluntary sector.

The event enabled participants to hear about lived experiences from a refugee perspective, the mental health needs and concerns of refugee communities, including providing emotional first aid for refugees, and raised important questions of how we can work together to help to re-establish refugees’ trust in humanity and services and to improve practice in building resilience and improving care of unaccompanied children.

Since 1999, IOM has provided mental health and psychosocial support to migrants and host communities and has implemented programmes dedicated to improving the availability and quality of psychosocial support in over 45 countries worldwide. In the UK, IOM has recently been involved in a pre-departure mental health pilot initiative for UK-bound refugees using the Global Mental Health Assessment Tool (GMHAT).

For more information, please contact Amanda Salomonsson at IOM UK: Tel: 0207 811 6034, Email:

IOM UK partnered with the women-led creative group Migration Collective to host the participative event "Young People in the ‘Refugee Crises’" Short Films + Roundtable, at the famous Upstairs at the Ritzy as part of this year’s London Migration Film Festival (LMFF), on Sunday (03/12).

Under the framework of IOM UK’s community cohesion, the LMFF was selected as the forum to mark this year’s International Migrants Day (18/12), and as a local partner to IOM’s own Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) running from 5-18 December and global youth migration film competition, Plural+.

The sell-out Ritzy event focused on the experiences of young refugees and migrants as told in their own words via media production, and facilitated a public discussion on integration and inclusion. Alongside the unique contributions of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and London-based children’s charity CORAM, the event featured the GMFF entry ‘Misafir - A Guest’ and the winner of the Plural+ Special Award for the Prevention of Xenophobia, Be a Champion for Social Inclusion.

Testimony to IOM’s recognition of youth as powerful agents of social change, the screenings were introduced by Plural+ winner Gabriel Brown, who gave a powerful speech on the importance of community action; and Omed Hawrami, a member of the CORAM Young Citizen’s network who dynamically engaged the public to explore the concept of belonging, topic featured in What Does Belonging Mean to You?

“We must tackle the discriminatory views and comments of others and ourselves in order to achieve a society where all people can be accepted and integrated into our world as valuable members of national and international society”, Gabriel said.

Important was also MSF’s intervention which focused on their work with young refugees and migrants in Calais and Paris, and counter-balanced the often dehumanising migration narrative with the short Sorry I drowned.

The successful roundtable discussion saw numerous thought-provoking interventions, which highlighted the public’s shared desire to foster community cohesion and conveyed a heartfelt wish for a more humane migration management.

Reflecting on his involvement with Young Citizens, Omed gave the public a glimpse of how important integration initiatives can be. “Since being involved in Coram’s Young Citizens project I have increased my confidence, improved my speech, met lots of amazing people and got involved in other projects”. Sharing his hopes for the future “I hope we can work together to make a change for children and young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds: that all will have access to free education and good housing. I hope we will achieve equality.”

IOM UK’s involvement in the event demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to uphold children’s rights in the field of migration. Just this week (04-06/12), IOM’s Director General, William Lacy Swing, attended the UN Intergovernmental Conference to adopt the Global Compact on Migration (GCM), in Mexico. The meeting saw UN Member States and civil society starting the drafting of the GCM, a landmark intergovernmental agreement that will cover all dimensions of international migration, including protecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all refugee and migrant children.

For further information, please contact Francesca Megna at IOM UK, Tel: + 44 207 811 6068, Email: or Christopher Gaul, Tel: + 4420 7811 6053, Email:

IOM Deputy Director General, Ambassador Laura Thompson yesterday (15/11) participated in the 4th Global Conference on the Sustainable Eradication of Child Labour in Buenos Aires, where she spoke on the High-Level Panel From Work Without a Future to a Future of Decent Work – SDG 8.7 and Beyond.

The conference – which seeks to help strengthen global efforts to eradicate all forms of child labour by the year 2025, as required by the Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – is focussed on the sustained eradication of child labour and the elimination of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, amongst others.

Ambassador Thompson was joined on the panel by Guy Ryder, Director General of the ILO; Kailash Satyarth, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Linda Kromjong, Secretary General of the International Organization of Employers (IOE); Franciso Martinez, ADECCO Group CEO in Argentina; Christy Hoffman, Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union and Khouloud Mannai, a young Tunisian activist.

“The future of the work is today, not in five, ten or twenty years. A world without child labour and without forced labour is the basics, we have to start from there," said Ambassador Thompson. "In the globalized world of today we're looking for a world where labour markets are driven by qualifications and skills, and not by administrative measures," Thompson added.

“We need inclusive societies which give women the possibility to access what men can access today. We don’t need to empower women, women are powerful, we just need to give them access to opportunities,” said Ambassador Thompson. [Watch video].

During her visit to Buenos Aires, Ambassador Thompson also met with Argentinian authorities to discuss issues of common interest.

The conference, which ends today (16/11), is organized by Argentina’s Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO). Delegates from the United Nations Member States and organizations of employers and workers from 193 countries also attended the event.

In parallel, IOM is participating in two side events at the conference, where IOM Specialists Mathieu Luciano from IOM HQ and Agueda Marín from IOM South America will talk about the importance of reliable data on victims, as well as the role of the GCM in tackling child labour.

For more information, please contact Débora Taicz, IOM Argentina, Email:, Tel: + 54 11 4815 1035.

To mark Anti-Slavery Day in 2017, IOM UK hosted an event drawing on the findings of the IOM and UNICEF joint report ‘Harrowing Journeys’ launched in September 2017. The event brought together speakers from IOM, UNICEF UK and the Rt Hon Fiona Mactaggart, former co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on human trafficking. The event was moderated by Lucy Lamble, Associate Editor for Global Development at The Guardian.

Harrowing Journeys shows that while all migrants and refugees are at high risk, children and youth on the move are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than adults aged 25 years and above.
The report also highlights that travelling on the Central Mediterranean route is particularly dangerous, with most of the migrants and refugees passing through Libya where state institutions are weak and lawlessness and violence widespread.

Alieu, 17, who travelled through Libya on his journey from the Gambia to Italy, where he is seeking asylum, described shockingly pervasive violence: “Everybody has a gun,” he says, “Small boys – that’s what really surprised me – old men. Everybody has an AK-47. "

“The lack of safe and regular migration pathways heightens the risk of trafficking and exploitation for children and youth on the move” said Irina Todorova, Senior Regional Migrant Assistance Specialist (Counter-Trafficking and Child Protection), IOM Regional Office for the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

UNICEF has been gathering evidence to support the protection of children which shows that perpetrators benefit from the existing flaws in the system. “Safer legal routes mean smugglers and traffickers have fewer opportunities to exploit children.” said Stefan Stoyanov, Senior Policy and Advocacy Adviser (Trafficking and Exploitation), UNICEF UK.

Children who are alone and seeking sanctuary are always vulnerable and at high risk of abuse and exploitation. The narrowing of legal channels to the UK pushes these children into the hands of traffickers. The Dubs scheme provided a legal route for children to come and live safely in the UK. However, the chaotic manner in which it was enacted on the ground has created a lack of trust in official pathways resulting in children putting themselves at harm and turning to criminals to help them make their journeys to Europe.
Discussions during the Q&A session focussed on practical steps the Home Office and Police can take to support children following the trauma of their journeys and the exploitation and abuse they have faced. Frontline professionals with a duty of care who encounter children called for safeguards to be guaranteed in existing procedures, to ensure that children are protected.

“A child is a child and we all have a responsibility to protect them.” said the Rt Hon Fiona Mactaggart.

The report findings emphasise the urgent need for action to protect those most vulnerable on the move. These include establishing safe and regular pathways for children on the move; strengthening services to protect migrant and refugee children whether in countries of origin, transit or destination; finding alternatives to the detention of children on the move; working across borders to combat trafficking and exploitation; and combatting xenophobia, racism and discrimination against all migrants and refugees.
Children and youth are at the heart of IOM’s global mandate on migration. IOM will continue to provide protection and assistance to migrant children and youth, especially unaccompanied and separated children and youth.

To read the full report please click HERE.

For further information, please contact Catherine Cullen on or 0207 811 6077.

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) in the United Kingdom, this past weekend (23/09), partnered with renowned artist Salma Zulfiqar and Birmingham-based charity the Amirah Foundation to host a creative art workshop at the Library of Birmingham, on empowering migrant women as part of the Birmingham Weekend Festival, the city’s largest annual community arts festival.

The event recognised that female migrants in the UK face specific challenges and vulnerabilities, and attempts to promote integration of female migrants into British society. The workshop focused on creating better understanding between women from different ethnic backgrounds by exploring perceptions on Britishness.

IOM UK’s participation in the event demonstrates an extension of IOM’s ongoing commitment to community integration of refugees and migrants in the UK. IOM UK works extensively with beneficiaries, local authorities and community groups to aid the successful integration of refugees and migrants into UK society, including through cultural orientation programmes, information sessions, and community engagement.

According to 2015 statistics, women comprise approximately 52 per cent of the UK migrant population. Women face particular obstacles in community integration. IOM’s work in the UK has found that female migrants, including refugees, are less likely than their male counterparts to engage actively with employers, government and civil society actors.

Consequently, female migrants may suffer from additional marginalisation as a result of isolation from society, and reduced opportunities for language learning, education and employment. Events such as this art workshop devised by Salma Zulfiqar demonstrate a crucial step to aid positive experiences in exploring individual and British identity, to the benefit of both migrant women and British society as a whole.
“Integration is key in creating peaceful societies, in preventing hate crimes and ultimately prevents extremism,” Zulfiqar said.

Workshop participant Salaam Al Farrah, a refugee originating from Syria, reflected on her experiences in the UK. “I live in an area where there are Indians, Pakistanis and people originally from Jamaica and I love it! I know it’s important for me to integrate into society. I want to be part of this community and I want to learn more about the English culture so that I can support my family properly and so that we can enjoy our lives in the UK.”

The event is part of Salma Zulfiqar’s ongoing exhibition at the Library of Birmingham, ‘Building Peace through the Oceans’, which aims to promote migrant integration and illustrate the positive contributions that migrants have made.
For further information, please contact Jessica Williams at IOM UK, Tel: + 44 20 7811 6063, Email: or Christopher Gaul, Tel: + 4420 7811 6053, Email:

By Jessica Williams

Every year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September.

Events for the International Day of Peace aim to promote global peace, security and non-violence. On this day, the United Nations (UN) is calling on all nations to honour a cessation of hostilities and to promote and celebrate the Day through education, public awareness events and campaigns on issues related to peace.
In 2017, the United Nations has declared the theme for the Day as “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” This particular theme aims to promote respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants.

This theme complements a broader UN campaign, “TOGETHER”, a global initiative that seeks to strengthen social cohesion between host countries and communities, and refugees and migrants.

The TOGETHER campaign emerged as part of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted by all 193 UN Member States on 19 September 2016. The New York Declaration outlines a set of commitments to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants. The Declaration recognises the need for global cooperation on a comprehensive and humane approach to current and future challenges relating to large movements of refugees and migrants. Pivotally, the Declaration established concrete plans for the negotiation of a Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, to be adopted by UN Member States in 2018.

According to 2015 statistics, approximately 8.5 million international migrants live in the UK.[[i]] Persons born outside of the UK make up 13.5% of the national population. Within Inner London, non-UK born people make up 41% of the population. [[ii]] The canvas of the UK national population is tied up with the identity of migrants from all over the world.

The benefits of migrants and refugees are vast in potential. Peaceful relations can be extremely positive to building communities, and providing social and economic benefits. When governed humanely to promote safety, respect and dignity, migration presents huge advantages in fuelling economic and social growth, innovation, entrepreneurship, and improving living standards.

A 2016 study by the International Monetary Fund found that the in advanced economies, both low-skilled and high-skilled migration results in an increased GDP per capita in the host society, mostly by raising labour productivity. The study found that a 1 percent increase in the adult migrant population can raise GDP per capita by up to 2 percent in the long-term.[[iii]] Similar studies by the University College London,[[iv]] and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),[[v]] have found positive social and economic contributions of migration. These contributions include bridging skills gaps, increasing the number of tax-payers, and stimulating innovation and technological progress.

Peaceful relations in heterogeneous societies require successful integration. The UN Migration Agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM), is working to facilitate the successful integration of refugees and migrants into the UK community. The process of “integration” promoted by IOM recognises that successful integration is a two-way process, where refugees and migrants and host communities have a good understanding of each other’s expectations, cultural differences and practices. This process aims to strengthen social cohesion between host communities and refugees and migrants, and to move away from a position of fear and towards a position of mutual trust and peace.

Activities IOM in the UK undertakes to promote peaceful integration include cultural orientation programs, information sessions delivered to receiving communities, training workshops, media engagement and advocacy.

As individuals, or community groups, we can similarly undertake activities to foster social cohesion. Individual and community activities can demonstrate solidarity, increase cross-cultural understanding and build trust. This may include through personal education, local community engagement, or attendance at local or global events, including those in support of the International Day of Peace.

One such community event occurring for the International Day of Peace is “One Day One Choir”. One Day One Choir is a global choral project, launched in 2014, which aims to utilise the harmonising and unifying power of singing as a response to violence and unrest. Many community events are located throughout the UK and are further detailed on the One Day One Choir website.

By working toward effective integration of migrants and refugees, we can help to promote a society of respect, safety and dignity for all.

[[i]] According to United Nations, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) – Trends in International Migrants Stock: The 2015 Revision (POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2015, Table 2) ( – as published by IOM at
[[ii]] According to The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford -
[[iii]] International Monetary Fund, Spillover Taskforce, ‘Impact of Migration on Income Level s in Advanced Economies’ – Florence Jaumotte, Ksenia Koloskova, and Sweta C. Saxena, 2016.
[[iv]] University College London, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini, “The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK”, Economic Journal, Vol.124, Issue 580, pages F593–F643, 2014.
[[v]] OECD, Migration Policy Debates, ‘Is migration good for the economy?’, May 2014,

New research developed jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with IOM, the UN Migration Agency has revealed the true scale of modern slavery around the world.

The data, released during the United Nations General Assembly, shows that more than 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016. ILO has also released a companion estimate of child labour, which confirms that about 152 million children, aged between 5 and 17, were subject to child labour.

The new estimates show that women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for almost 29 million, or 71 per cent of the overall total. Women represent 99 per cent of victims of forced labour in the commercial sex industry and 84 per cent of people in a forced marriage.

The research reveals that among the 40 million victims of modern slavery, about 25 million were in forced labour, and 15 million were living in a forced marriage.

Child labour remains concentrated primarily in agriculture (70.9 per cent). Almost one in five child labourers work in the services sector (17.1 per cent) while 11.9 per cent of child labourers work in industry.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said: “The message the ILO is sending today – together with our partners in Alliance 8.7 – is very clear: the world won’t be in a position to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals unless we dramatically increase our efforts to fight these scourges. These new global estimates can help shape and develop interventions to prevent both forced labour and child labour.”

Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman and Founder of the Walk Free Foundation, said: “The fact that as a society, we have the brilliance to create something are remarkable as artificial intelligence, but we still have 40 million people in modern slavery shames us all. It speaks to the deep-seated discrimination and inequalities in our world today, coupled with a shocking tolerance of exploitation. This has to stop. We all have a role to play in changing this reality – business, government, civil society, every one of us.”

About the data
The new global estimates are produced by ILO and Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with IOM, as a contribution towards Alliance 8.7. Central to the estimates of modern slavery is data from 54 specially designed, random sample surveys involving interviews with more than 71,000 respondents across 48 countries, alongside data from close to 40,000 victims of human trafficking assisted by IOM. Alliance 8.7 is the global partnership to end forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour that brings together key partners representing governments, UN organisations, the private sector, workers’ and employers’ organizations and civil society in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.

The data is published in two reports:
  • Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage, prepared jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with IOM, the UN Migration Agency
  • Global estimates of child labour: Results and trends, 2012-2016, prepared by the International Labour Organization (ILO)
The 2017 Global Estimates can be found online at

For more information, please contact Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:

Migrant and refugee children and youth trying to reach Europe face appalling levels of human rights abuses, with 77 per cent of those traveling along the Central Mediterranean route reporting direct experiences of abuse, exploitation, and practices which may amount to human trafficking – IOM, the UN Migration Agency and UNICEF said today (12/09) in a new report.

Harrowing Journeys shows that while all migrants and refugees are at high risk, children and youth on the move are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than adults aged 25 years and above: nearly twice as likely on the Eastern Mediterranean route and at a rate 13 per cent higher on the Central Mediterranean route.

Aimamo, a 16-year-old unaccompanied child from the Gambia interviewed at a shelter in Italy, described being forced into months of gruelling manual labour by traffickers upon his arrival in Libya. “If you try to run, they shoot you. If you stop working, they beat you. We were just like slaves. At the end of the day, they just lock you inside.”

The report is based on the testimonies of some 22,000 migrants and refugees, including some 11,000 children and youth, interviewed by IOM.

“For people who leave their countries to escape violence, instability or poverty, the factors pushing them to migrate are severe and they make perilous journeys knowing that they may be forced to pay with their dignity, their wellbeing or even their lives,” said Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM’s Regional Director for the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

“Without the establishment of more regular migration pathways, other measures will be relatively ineffective. We must also re-invigorate a rights-based approach to migration, improving mechanisms to identify and protect the most vulnerable throughout the migration process, regardless of their legal status.”
“The stark reality is that it is now standard practice that children moving through the Mediterranean are abused, trafficked, beaten and discriminated against,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe. “EU leaders should put in place lasting solutions that include safe and legal migration pathways, establishing protection corridors and finding alternatives to the detention of migrant children.”

The report also shows that, while all children on the move are at high risk, those originating from sub-Saharan Africa are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than those from other parts of the world: 65 per cent compared to 15 per cent along the Eastern Mediterranean route, and 83 per cent compared to 56 per cent along the Central Mediterranean route. Racism is likely a major underlying factor behind this discrepancy.

Children and youth traveling alone or over longer periods, along with those possessing lower levels of education, were also found to be highly vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of traffickers and criminal groups over the course of their journeys. According to the report, the Central Mediterranean route is particularly dangerous, with most of the migrants and refugees passing through Libya which remains riven with lawlessness, militias and criminality. On average, young people pay between USD 1,000-5,000 for the journey and often arrive in Europe in debt, which exposes them to further risks.

The report calls on all concerned parties − countries of origin, transit and destination, the African Union, the European Union, international and national organizations with support from the donor community – to prioritize a series of actions.

These include establishing safe and regular pathways for children on the move; strengthening services to protect migrant and refugee children whether in countries of origin, transit or destination; finding alternatives to the detention of children on the move; working across borders to combat trafficking and exploitation; and combating xenophobia, racism and discrimination against all migrants and refugees.

For more information, please contact:
Ryan Schroeder, IOM Brussels, Tel: +32 22 87 71 16, Email:
Harry Cook, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 798 829 313, Email:
Jorge Galindo, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 71 79 205, Email:
Christopher Tidey, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 340 3017, Email:
Simon Ingram, UNICEF Brussels, Tel: +32 491 90 5118, Email:
Sarah Crowe, UNICEF Geneva, Tel: +41 79 543 80 29, Email:

Counter-trafficking specialists announced the pre-launch of the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) at the 5th Global Compact for Migration (GCM) consultations in Vienna. The CTDC is the result of a joint initiative led by IOM, the UN Migration Agency and Polaris, an independent organization combating modern slavery. Its online portal will consist of a global repository of data on human trafficking that protects the identities of victims, and uses a new international standard.

The announcement took place at a parallel event during the GCM consultations. At the pre-launch, IOM stressed the important role of the CTDC to fill the gap in terms of publicly available data on human trafficking. Harry Cook, IOM Data Management and Research Specialist stressed that the lack of data on human trafficking and the hurdles to collect it in a harmonized manner are two main problems for the counter-trafficking movement.

The CTDC will be the first global repository of its kind and will host primary data from counter-trafficking organizations around the world, helping deepen the understanding of vulnerability-producing contexts that migrants encounter during their migration process.

“We all want counter trafficking efforts to be as effective and efficient as possible, and in order to do that, they need to be based on real information about the problem,” said Sara Crowe, Polaris’ Associate Director in charge of data systems.

The CTDC will combine datasets including over 45,000 victim records from IOM and more than 31,000 cases of human trafficking from Polaris. Global data from other organizations is expected to enrich the current repository, which will facilitate an unparalleled level of cross border, trans-agency analysis and provide the counter-trafficking movement with a comprehensive understanding of the issue.

“We must examine how to harness the data revolution and modern technology in the fight against human trafficking. Modern technology is allowing us to make data accessible to external stakeholders through sophisticated anonymization, data protection, and data sharing techniques,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.

Following the pre-launch event, the CTDC teams will focus on increasing promotion and awareness of the CTDC as a resource for relevant academics and actors within the counter-trafficking community.

Combatting trafficking in persons, as well as smuggling of migrants and contemporary forms of slavery play a pivotal role in the consultations leading up to the GCM negotiations in 2018.

The GCM thematic consultations in Vienna (4-5/09) focused on smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims.

The next and final thematic session to be held in Geneva on 12-13 October, will address irregular migration and regular pathways, including decent work, labor mobility, recognition of skills and qualifications, and other relevant measures.
For more information please contact Jorge Galindo at IOM HQ, Tel: +417179205, Email:

IOM Director General William Lacy Swing addressed high-level government and UN officials, practitioners, and civil society on 5th September 2017 at the UN Center in Vienna, calling on States to carry out their commitments to combat migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons.

This is the fifth in a series of six sessions covering a range of issues on migration. It provides an opportunity to debate and examine actions taken, as well as gaps in responses to the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons. The session also provides a platform for States and agencies to share best practices and launch new initiatives.

Panel discussions examine topics related to investigating and prosecuting criminal actors, preventing smuggling and trafficking in persons, protecting and providing assistance to victims of trafficking, and national and cross-border coordination and cooperation.

On Tuesday 5 September, IOM will co-host with Polaris the pre-launch event of the Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC), a new global repository of harmonized human trafficking data, during a side event co-organized by the United Kingdom with closing remarks by IOM Director General. Today (04/09), IOM will host another side event with UNODC and the Republic of Turkey on supporting new models of cooperation to counter migrant smuggling. More information on both events can be found here.

IOM continues to provide policy and technical expertise to the Offices of the President of the General Assembly and the Special Representative for the Secretary-General (SRSG) on International Migration, who serves as the Secretary-General for the intergovernmental process to adopt a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). A sixth and final thematic session will take place in Geneva in October to be followed by a stocktaking meeting in December and intergovernmental negotiations beginning next year.

For more information please contact:
In Vienna: Joe Lowry, Tel: +43660 3776404, Email:
In Geneva: Leonard Doyle, Tel: +41792857123, Email: or
In New York: Lanna Walsh, Tel: +1929 9201127, Email
Report Launch Event
Fatal Journeys Volume 3:
Improving Data on Missing Migrants

Research from the IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC)
13 September 2017, from 6 to 8 pm
Venue: Frontline Club,
13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ

Since 2014, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recorded the deaths of more than 22,500 migrants worldwide. This figure is a significant measure of the human toll of unsafe migration, but still fails to capture the true number of people who have died or gone missing on their journey for a better life.

This event will share the key messages of Fatal Journeys Volume 3 – Part 1, the third volume of the global report on migrant fatalities published by IOM. The editors of the report will speak about three sets of issues: (i) what we know (ii) gaps and how to improve data on missing migrants (iii) the role of the media.

For further information about the event and to register, please HERE.

This material has been funded by UK aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

It is believed that millions are currently victims of trafficking in persons around the world. It is almost impossible to think about each one of those numbers as individual human beings and it can feel like an insurmountable problem. But it isn’t. And on this World Day Against Trafficking in Persons we must believe that not only can we make a dent but that we can make significant inroads into eliminating it.

At the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN’s Migration Agency I head, we deal with trafficking in persons on a daily basis. We know that trafficking involves more than kidnapping and selling of persons, people forced into jobs against their will, and victims forced to give away a kidney or other vital organs. Trafficking in persons can occur ever so subtly as in cases of employment pathways, where workers are charged for recruitment and placement fees, have their wages withheld, or cannot leave their employers and thus are put into vulnerable situations where they are further exploited and become trafficked. Migrants travelling on regular or irregular migration routes around the globe are highly vulnerable to these kinds of abuses. Many who start their journeys by willingly placing themselves in the hands of smugglers can also become victims of trafficking along the way.

In addition to our and our partners’ hands-on work in providing protection and assistance to already some 90,000 victims of trafficking over the years, we are working tirelessly to collect and analyze global data on trafficking so that we can collectively improve and implement the best practices and inform policies and programmes to better address trafficking in persons.

For instance, since 2015, IOM has surveyed over 22,000 migrants on the journey on the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes. This is the largest-scale survey yet to explore migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation on the Mediterranean routes to Europe. Around 39% of individuals interviewed had a personal experience that indicates the presence of trafficking in persons or other exploitative practices along the route with many reporting direct experiences of abuse, exploitation and practices which can amount to trafficking in persons. Looking at just the Central route, a shocking 73% of those interviewed indicated this. With this research IOM is currently exploring which factors predict migrants’ vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation on their journey.

It is also our goal to facilitate cross-border, trans-agency analysis and provide the counter-trafficking community with the information we need to develop a more comprehensive understanding of this complex issue. To this end, we will soon be launching the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative. Drawing on IOM’s and partners’ victim case data, this will be the first ever open access data platform for human trafficking data.

As we develop new knowledge and tools, it is critical that we share our findings and communicate with other global leaders. This September, in an effort to develop the “Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration,” governments will come together to discuss smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims. This will be our chance to share our expertise learned from decades of research and practice in this field and to learn from others.

We are learning more, and understanding how to better respond to trafficking in persons, yet there are still many unanswered questions. What makes migrants susceptible to trafficking? What do we know about those being trafficked now? And how do we best stop it from occurring in the future?

We may not have all the answers yet, but we do know that we must now accumulate the data and knowledge we have and make it transferrable so that we can all benefit from it. We do not know everyone who could be at risk but we do know we need to make migration safer, more orderly, and more regular to make migrants less vulnerable. We do not know the exact number of victims of trafficking, but we do know it’s far too many.

The fight against trafficking in persons requires us to strive for answers to our many questions. It requires us to better respond, with shared data, knowledge, and tools, and it requires us to respond together.
William Lacy Swing is the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Migration Agency
Over the past three years, IOM Italy has seen an almost 600 per cent increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea. This upward trend has continued during the first six months of 2017, with most victims arriving from Nigeria.

This is one of the key findings of a new report published by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, Human Trafficking through the Central Mediterranean Route, which was released in Italian this week (21 July) by IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean in Rome. An English version will be available soon.

Among other findings, the report states that sexual exploitation increasingly involves younger girls – often minors – who are already subject to violence and abuse on their way to Europe. IOM estimates that 80 per cent of girls arriving from Nigeria – whose numbers have soared from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016 – are potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The report is based on data collected by IOM at landing sites and in reception centres for migrants in the regions of southern Italy, where the Organization carries out identification of potential victims and assists those who, once identified, decide to escape their exploiters and accept IOM support.

"Trafficking is a transnational crime that devastates the lives of thousands of people and is the cause of untold suffering," said Federico Soda, Director of the IOM Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean. "This is a theme we have been working on for years, committing to protect, prevent and collaborate with the authorities dealing with organized crime."

IOM Project Manager Carlotta Santarossa added: "The report describes the organization's activities in the face of this phenomenon: the difficulties in protecting victims and the main vulnerabilities identified among several cases of people who were assisted by the Organization. We also wanted to tell some of the stories of people who have been assisted by IOM staff to highlight the true nature of this painful and hateful form of slavery. We also feel that it is increasingly urgent that data analysis be accompanied by an examination of the market these girls supply, and the growing demand for paid sexual services."

IOM staff working in Sicily and elsewhere meet potential trafficking victims as soon as they reach Italian soil. This allows IOM to develop a list of indicators that are useful in the identification of potential trafficking victims amongst the newly arrived migrants, using indicators based on information collected during individual and group meetings with migrants. These indicators are broadly described in the report, accompanied by some of the stories that have been collected by IOM staff during their activities.

Among the more significant indicators:
  • Gender: Most sex trafficking victims are women;
  • Age: Most victims are young and often underage, between 13 and 24 years old. (In 2016, there was a decrease in the age of the youngest victims of trafficking);
  • Nationality: It is important to emphasize the peculiarities of the case of trafficking victims from Nigeria, not only from Edo State but from different parts of the country (Delta, Lagos, Ogun, Anambra, and Imo are the states of origin that, apart from Edo State, are most cited by the Nigerians met by IOM);
  • Psycho-physical Wellness: In a group setting, victims of trafficking are usually the most submissive and silent. Sometimes they are obviously controlled by other migrants that speak on their behalf, or refuse to let IOM staff interview them in private.

Other indicators of trafficking emerge during in-depth individual talks; for example, some migrants claim that they have not paid anything for the journey because someone else paid for their movements. When IOM staff identify a potential trafficking victim, they explain to them that it is possible to access certain protection mechanisms and, with the victim’s consent, the Organization’s staff report the victim on the anti-trafficking toll-free number. If the person agrees, IOM staff also provide assistance in communicating and filing a report to the investigating authorities.

Activities in the field demonstrate that most trafficking victims are not willing, at least at first, to reveal their experience or to take advantage of security programmes provided by IOM and local institutions. There are many reasons for this including links between trafficking victims and traffickers, the control that the accompanying person (for instance, madame or boga) has over the victims, or the belief that victims cannot violate an oath sealed with a voodoo ritual or a rite of initiation (the victim is committed to honouring her agreement). Finally, there is a sense of responsibility towards one’s family that results in a fear of retaliation by traffickers on the victim’s family members back in their country of origin.

Very often the young women whom IOM staff meet have been victims of sexual violence during their journey; they have experienced serious trauma and suffer from psychological distress.

For more information on the report, please click HERE.

For more information, please contact:
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
Joel Millman, IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
Photo: © Marcia Chandra / IOM UK

IOM UK explored the theme of “Our Shared Future” through two art projects – Portraits of Welcome and Building Tomorrow Together – as part of the 2017 Refugee Week celebrations in the United Kingdom (UK) at the Southbank Centre in London, on 24 June 2017.

IOM UK ran the second edition of it participatory arts project creating visual messages, Portraits of Welcome, by inviting members of the public to reflect on what the future may hold for our shared community. Photographer Marcia Chandra captured engaging portraits to put public faces to their thoughts for the future. 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.

“We are all wired for connection,” said Dipti Pardeshi, IOM UK Chief of Mission, when reflecting on Our Shared Future. “A shared future is a connected one. One where we value diversity as an important ingredient in a recipe that, when mixed well, makes our society richer and more satisfying.”

To further illustrate the theme of Our Shared Future, IOM UK also displayed an art installation in the shape of a tree, with materials produced by children in Lebanon and the UK, as part of the Building Tomorrow Together project.

Children from Globe Primary School, Bethnal Green, held the first UK workshop for the project in tandem with Syrian refugee children in Beirut, who were participating in an IOM Cultural Orientation session before they were relocated to the UK. All the children were encouraged to think about their identity and what a positive shared future could look like. Working thousands of miles apart, both UK and Syrian children created an inspiring collaborative tree installation, with their thoughts and messages appearing as leaves sprouting from the tree, which will continue to grow as more children in Beirut and London contribute their messages, ideas and thoughts.

“I hope to live in a house and go to school, with a playground where I can play in. I hope I can study to become a doctor, but if I can’t, I would like to be a princess,” said Lana, eight years old, at the Lebanon workshop.

For further information, please contact Christopher Gaul at IOM UK, Tel: +44 207 811 60, Email:

IOM - the UN Migration Agency and the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to boost cooperation in promoting ethical recruitment, protecting migrant workers and combatting human trafficking in global labour supply chains.

“IOM recognizes the critical role that private sector employers and brands play in migration management and safeguarding the rights of migrant workers,” said Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM Regional Director for the EU, Norway and Switzerland, at an MOU signing event in Brussels today.

“We believe this new partnership between IOM and FTA will bolster joint efforts to improve conditions for migrant workers and provide strong public-private leadership in promoting sustainable supply chains,” he added.

FTA represents nearly 2,000 retailers, importers and brands and works to advance their international trade in conjunction with corporate responsibility. In doing so, FTA helps member companies develop systems and supply chains that respect workers, the environment, human rights and core labour standards.

IOM began working with FTA last year, in support of its work to reduce forced labour and human trafficking in South East Asian food and fisheries supply chains. Cooperation continued in the form of joint training sessions for FTA member companies on issues including labour rights, supply chain monitoring and responsible recruitment practices.

The new MOU provides a framework for further collaboration to protect migrant workers. This includes the enhanced use of IOM’s International Recruitment Integrity System, IRIS, which helps job seekers find ethical recruiters, certifies recruiters committed to ethical standards and helps employers assess the recruiters they use and improve transparency in the hiring process. It also includes support for FTA’s Business Social Compliance Initiative, training for employers and employees on trafficking and modern slavery issues, pre- and/or post-orientation training for labour migrants and support to companies to improve recruitment and map supply chains.

For further information, please contact Melissa Winkler at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 766 8230, Email:
Today (12/06), at the Global Conference on Children on the Move, in Berlin, Germany, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) joined more than 20 UN and civil society organizations to unite around the rights of children, especially children on the move. The conference with more than 250 participants from States, civil society, academia, UN agencies, private sector and individual experts aims to ensure that both Global Compacts – on migrants and on refugees - take into account children’s priorities and concerns.

“Every day at the UN Migration Agency, we work with migrant children. Some have been compelled to move accompanied by relatives or guardians or on their own due to conflict, disasters, fear and despair. Other children migrate in search of better socio-educational opportunities and ultimately to pursue their own development and that of the society they live in,” said William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General, when discussing the preparations for the Conference.

“We want to ensure that child migration is always in the best interests of the child and that when it is not, sustainable solutions are found for children and their families both at home or in a new home elsewhere. These solutions should ensure that children are not left behind and that they are not exploited or even worse: trafficked. All migrant children are entitled to care and protection regardless of their migratory status,” concluded Ambassador Swing.

Different factors contribute to migrant children’s situations of vulnerability, including their age, risk factors at individual, household, community and structural levels, the reasons why they have migrated, and the conditions they face during travel, transit, and at destination.

With intergovernmental discussions leading up to the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees currently taking place, all parties must work together to address the needs of migrant children consistent with their human rights.

OM will continue to strive for migrant children’s wellbeing and best interests across the wide spectrum of activities the Organization is pursuing in support to all Governments, who are ultimately responsible for their protection.

IOM values this inclusive partnership and its goals especially as the consultations progress for the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration - a major global process, to which IOM is extending technical and policy expertise as requested by UN Member States.

For further information, please contact Olivia Headon at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 22 717 94 35, Email:
IOM and Stop the Traffik have been awarded a project to develop, pilot and evaluate multi-disciplinary modern slavery awareness training to meet the needs of frontline and ancillary professionals working in key agencies across London. The initiative has been jointly coordinated by the London Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (LondonAdass), the Metropolitan Police and the NHS.

Using a train-the-trainer approach with complementary e-learning tools, IOM and Stop the Traffik will build the capacity of professionals working in social care, health and the police so that they can define human trafficking and modern slavery, recognise the different forms of exploitation and the associated indicators and how they might present. Speaking on behalf LondonAdass, Dawn Wakeling, Lead Director of Adult Social Services for Safeguarding says “the training sessions and tools will describe the safeguarding needs associated with trafficking and modern slavery, including some of the common health concerns experienced by trafficked people and people in modern slavery, and will help participants assess how to take safe and appropriate action”.

Commenting on the importance of this initiative, Detective Chief Inspector Phil Brewer from the Metropolitan Police Trafficking & Kidnap Unit and a member of the steering group says “effective multi-agency awareness training is urgently needed for frontline professionals to ensure that vital opportunities to identify, assist, and support victims of modern slavery are not missed, and that best practices are followed. We are pleased to be working with IOM and Stop the Traffik on this project”.

In total, 180 professionals will participate in six awareness sessions taking place across London in summer 2017. They will all be equipped with the skills and materials to disseminate the learning, either via face-to-face sessions or e-learning, across their local areas and among different agencies.

This project builds on the experience of both IOM & Stop the Traffik in delivering human trafficking and modern slavery awareness-raising sessions to frontline professionals across various agencies and locations in the UK. Both organisations have worked extensively with local authorities, police, health, and immigration services, as well as faith-based groups, diaspora community groups and NGOs, to ensure that all have the skills they need to detect, address and prevent human trafficking and modern slavery.

Wendy Adams, Stop the Traffik Lead Trainer and UK Projects Co-ordinator says “Stop the Traffik believes that this training initiative will make a significant difference to how professionals in London can be provided with the right knowledge to take action in a collaborative way”.

“IOM is very pleased to have been selected with Stop the Traffik to deliver this training pilot across London as a natural progression to the work we have been doing with local authorities and other agencies. The multi-agency approach, bringing together staff from social care, the NHS and the police, will ensure a wide variety of professionals can actively share experiences, learn from each other and improve their understanding of what can be very complex issues” says Sarah Di Giglio, IOM UK’s Senior Policy and Programme Officer for Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.

For more information, please contact Sarah Di Giglio at IOM UK:, 020 7811 6062, or Wendy Adams at Stop the Traffik:, 020 7921 4258.
Syrian children in Lebanon reflected about their future in the UK as part of the Building Tomorrow Together art project. Photo: IOM / Gabriela Boeing

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) conducted the first workshop of the Building Tomorrow Together art project with Syrian children in Beirut, Lebanon, this week. While their parents attended Pre-Departure Orientation in preparation for their resettlement to the United Kingdom, the children aged between 6 and 10 were encouraged to think about their identities and their future in the UK, through two art activities.

During the first session, the children had the opportunity to reflect on their own personalities and express themselves while drawing and writing on a paper doll template. At the end of the activity the children were encouraged to share their likes and dislikes with others. “I like music and my favourite food is egg. I want to be a dentist when I grow up,” said six-year-old Asmaa.

In the second activity called A Shared Future, the children filled in a leaf shape with drawings that illustrate what they expect for their future in the UK. All the children highlighted the importance of housing and access to education. “If we have this, everything will be beautiful. I also hope to make good friends and wish we could have toys and a garden to play in with my little brother,” explained Riyad, 10.

IOM staff in Lebanon will conduct additional sessions with children in the next couple of weeks and IOM staff in the UK will hold two workshops at a primary school in East London.

“The main objective of the Building Tomorrow Together project is to promote an exchange between children waiting to be resettled as refugees and those of similar age in the UK, so they can reflect on who they are as a person, celebrate diversity and think what a positive shared future would feel like,” said Dipti Pardeshi, IOM UK Chief of Mission.

All the material produced by the children in both locations will be pieced together as an art installation. This installation in the shape of a tree, will be exhibited for the first time at the Refugee Week Marketplace at the Southbank Centre in London on 24 June 2017. IOM staff in Lebanon and the UK will continue to run the workshops in Beirut and at schools in the UK, and the tree will continue to grow as children add their thoughts – symbolised by leaves, roots and people – to it.

The Building Tomorrow Together project is a partnership between IOM, Counterpoints Arts, Refugee Week and Lifeworlds Learning.

For further information, please contact Gabriela Boeing at IOM UK, Tel: + 44 20 7811 6054, Email:
IOM has launched a European digital platform to improve labour market access of refugees:

The early validation of formal and informal competences is crucial for the successful labour participation of beneficiaries of international protection. The website offers information on services, organizations, projects and initiatives that support the identification of skills, knowledge and competencies of beneficiaries of international protection with a focus on nine EU member states: Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom. The platform also shows employment success stories from migrants and their employers in each participating member state.

The platform is part of IOM’s EC funded Skills2Work initiative, which focuses on skills recognition with a European reach.

Take a look at the UK page on the Skills2Work platform here. For more information on the Skills2Work project and to sign up to newsletters click here.

Article first published on IOM the Netherlands webpage.


Cultural diversity is the driving force of modern life, has a crucial role in development and underpins the wealth of nations. We will celebrate it this week by observing World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

The International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Migration Agency, considers human mobility a mega-trend of our time. We believe migration provides the quickest means for our world to manage human ambition and human resources and direct both to where they can do the most good.

Migration relieves poverty in places where jobs are scarce, just as it speeds economic growth and spurs greater efficiency in places where an aging workforce needs a jolt of youth.

Naturally, since we support the positive impact of migration, we must support the diversity that such migration brings.

It is sometimes asked whether the West’s multiculturalism, its diversity, has reached its limits? Can a society only cope with so much diversity? The answer is no. There has never been a city or a country brought down by too much “diversity.”

The majority of free people living in free societies—liberal democracies if you will—have concluded that embracing openness and “multi” ethnic inclusion is the best way to create strong, creative and prosperous societies. And experience bears this out.

Consider the United States. It has largely been built by migrants from all over the world. Take almost any country with a flourishing society and you will find an important migrant contribution.

For example, it was Huguenot refugees who launched the watch-making industry in Switzerland and it was a Lebanese migrant, Nicolas Hayek who gave the Swatch to the world. Flemish migrants launched the British weaving industry.

From Alexandria more than 2000 years ago, to Istanbul in the 13th Century and London or New York today we have examples of cities that were built on and thrive on diversity.

The bottom line is that today no single state lives within the framework of a single, acknowledged “culture.” Even states averse to permitting entry to more “foreigners “must acknowledge the multiple “cultures” within their own borders. All countries have them: religious, ethnic, social, societal, sexual, occupational, educational, dietary specificities.

Now does diversity present challenges? Yes it does, but then again the answer to the challenges is not to seek to erase the differences but to work out how to develop understandings, values and perspectives can be common property.

At IOM we take this challenge seriously. Our commitment is demonstrated in media campaigns such as “i am a migrant,” which is a pillar of the UN’s TOGETHER initiative to promote respect, safety and dignity for everyone who has left home in search of a better life.

TOGETHER, created at the September 2016 UN Summit on migration, has a primary goal of bringing together all existing campaigns and actions promoting diversity and fighting xenophobia.

Through “i am a migrant” IOM collects stories from all over the world from migrants telling us about their lives and journey to a better future for themselves and for the societies in which they live and work. The campaign highlights migrants’ positive role in both countries of destination and origin. And it gives a human voice to migration one piece of diversity at a time.

This is the diversity that we celebrate on May 21 with World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Let’s celebrate together, and welcome the migrants arriving in our cities, the villagers who come to make us great and keep our future always in sight.

William Lacy Swing, Director General
International Organization for Migration (IOM) - The UN Migration Agency
IOM is pleased to observe this week World Health Day 2017, and hail its importance to migrants worldwide. IOM remains committed to reducing the burden of migration-linked stressors and in addressing depression as a global problem.

The theme chosen for World Health Day 2017, celebrated today (7 April), is: “Depression: Let’s Talk.” It culminates a year-long World Health Organization campaign.
“We much support the choice of this theme” said Dr. Guglielmo Schinina, Head of the Mental Health, Psycho-Social Support, and Inter-Cultural Communication at the IOM. He continued: “Depression is, in many cases, a preventable and certainly a treatable condition that affects people of all ages, everywhere in the world. It can have devastating emotional, relationship and socio-economic consequence for millions of people, families, and communities at large. Depression affects migrants as well!”

According to the WHO, “the total number of people living with depression in the world is 322 million.” This total constitutes a significant number within the world’s population.

Though exact data about migrants’ health are not systematically considered for collection and analysis, according to a consistent body of research, migrants are more prone than nationals are to depression. This is due to several determinants impacting people who have to leave their home because of conflicts, disasters, land degradation, poverty, or who are driven by the hope of a better life abroad. For many migrants this implies compounding the distressful experiences of the past, and of their journeys, with separation from families and social networks. Insecurity linked to legal status or determination of same, various bureaucratic obstacles and other barriers encountered, and overall anxiety, often are linked to a prevailing negative connotation given to migrants and migration in current political narratives.

For example, studies show that the widely-practiced detention of migrants—particularly the youngest—in an irregular situation has negative and lasting effects on migrants’ mental health. Anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation are commonly reported. Moreover time spent in detention is associated with the resulting severity of mental health conditions, which may persist even years after release.

Mental health is a need for migrants as much as it is a need for non-migrant:
“To prevent migrants from developing depression, to ensure uninterrupted care for those suffering depression, and to enhance their capacity to access the supporting assistance they might need regardless of what their legal status could be, decisive actions must be taken,” said Dr. Davide Mosca, Director of Migration Health at IOM.

“For millions of migrants with mental health conditions, much-needed specialist support is out of reach. Barriers linked to fear, isolation, language and cultural-issues, stigmatization or simply costs and public services entitlement linked to status, often remain unsurmountable,” Dr. Mosca added. “The risk of ‘self-medication’—including a recourse to surrogate substance use, including alcohol—can only aggravate a devastating health problem impacting on families and children.”

IOM believes adopting a right-based and a public health common interest approach means the removal of these obstacles and the creation of diversity oriented and inclusive health systems. That would make migrants’ right to health, including mental health care, a reality leading towards the creation of more stable and inclusive societies, societies that “leave no-one behind.”

IOM’s Dr. Guglielmo Schinina concluded that “Migrants are subject to stressors that have to do with the reasons for deciding to leave—including protracted, violent and other unresolved conflicts, the insecurity of their travel, and the adaptation to new social and cultural environments. There also are increasing levels of stigmatization and criminalization in host communities. Stress is a normal consequence of such environment. But protracted and toxic levels of stress can lead to depression. IOM, as a whole, is committed to facilitate safe and dignified migration processes and therefore to limit those unnecessary stressors migrants are subject to and that affect their emotional well-being.”

Today, IOM is present in 42 origin, transit and destination countries worldwide with dedicated psychosocial support programs that facilitate migrants access to community based, focused and specialized mental health services, and has trained in the last 3 years 4,500 health, migration and humanitarian actors. We remain committed to reducing the burden of migration-linked stressors in confronting depression as a global problem.”
For further information please contact: Dr. Davide Mosca, Director, IOM Migration Health Division, Tel: + 41 22 717 9358 Email:
IOM is pleased to announce that its pilot project providing specific child trafficking and modern slavery support to foster carers in the London Borough of Croydon has been awarded funding from the Home Office’s Child Trafficking Protection Fund.

Through the project, IOM and the London Borough of Croydon will work with foster carers in the borough who look after unaccompanied asylum seeking children, particularly from Albanian and Vietnam, who have been identified as victims of modern slavery or who might be at risk. The first aim of the project is to increase the confidence and capacity of foster carers and social workers to look after children survivors of modern slavery, including with specific cultural information on Albania and Vietnam. The second aim is to directly support children who have been trafficked or are at risk, by developing effective and culturally tailored information to improve their understanding of foster care, the support offered and the risks of leaving care.

The London Borough of Croydon is one of the UK’s local authorities with highest numbers of children identified as victims of modern slavery being referred into care, with children from Albania and Vietnam making up the majority of all cases. In common with many other local authorities across London and the UK, Croydon faces issues of these children going missing from care. This project therefore proposes a new approach to supporting the foster carers who receive these children, and the children themselves, to reduce the likelihood of their going missing after being placed in care.

Sarah Di Giglio, IOM UK’s Senior Policy and Programme Officer for Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery says:
“IOM has been working with the London Borough of Croydon on human trafficking and modern slavery since 2013 through the provision of training to frontline professionals to increase their levels of awareness and understanding of the issue. We are now very pleased to be extending our work with Croydon to better support foster carers and children within the Borough and in doing so, engage our offices in both Albania and Vietnam to garner expertise and cultural knowledge on the two countries”.

Oretha Wofford, Child Trafficking Lead for the London Borough of Croydon adds:
“This project will help us to give appropriate, robust and culturally sensitive support to foster carers looking after children who are survivors of trafficking as well as the children themselves. We are committed to reducing the risk of trafficked children going missing from care in Croydon and are pleased to be working with IOM on this initiative”.

UPDATE: Barnardo’s is the child trafficking expert organisation for the project, delivering training and developing resources to support foster carers in their understanding of why Albanian and Vietnamese young people go missing from care, the risks of trafficking and how to respond. Several training session dates are on offer to foster carers for Croydon Council, including from independent fostering agencies, from 3 October 2017 to 14 November 2017.

For more information, please contact Sarah Di Giglio on or on 0207 811 6062.
Just recently, on March 8th, the world marked International Women’s Day (IWD) around the globe. This is a day set aside to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In the UK context, IWD also offers a chance to pause and consider the role of migrant women in British society.

There is scope to broaden the current conversation about migration in the UK in a way that reflects the significant positive affect female migrants and refugees have in this country. As well as the benefits migrant and refugee women bring to the country, it is important that we consider the specific needs and challenges faced by migrant women.

Migrants, especially female migrants, bring enormous benefit to the UK. Whether they be Somali women working in the service and food industry in Birmingham, or Afghan and Pakistani women working to keep hospitals clean and functioning in London, or cutting edge female scientists working to push the boundaries of medical innovation at our top universities like Oxford and Cambridge. Migrants and refugees come at all skill levels and genders, and when given the opportunity they generally contribute extremely positively to this country. It is important that we recognize these contributions and do our best to ensure that migrants and refugees are effectively supported to overcome their substantial challenges and to contribute fully to society.

Despite the international protection granted to them and the additional security of resettlement to the UK, the challenges faced by refugees are well documented and significant. From language barriers, to cultural and religious differences, to difficulties acquiring the right to work and accessing the welfare system, it is fair to say that the life of a refugee is challenging in the extreme; all whilst attempting to simultaneously deal with the trauma of the situations they left behind, the often harrowing journey, and persecution faced throughout. These challenges are further exacerbated for female refugees.

Upwards of forty per cent of refugees resettled in the UK over the last ten years have been women, and female migrants have specific needs and face particular challenges that should be taken account in integration programming. As highlighted above, effectively integrated female migrants represent an amazing opportunity to British society. IWD offers an opportunity to refocus the narrative on the very real benefits society gets from female migrants and refugees.

Our experience at IOM tells us that all female migrants, including refugees, are less likely than their male counter-parts to engage actively with employers, or government and civil society actors, and are more likely to remain in homes under-taking domestic duties. As a result, female migrants often suffer additional marginalisation as a result of isolation from society, severely reduced opportunities to learn the language, and in the most extreme cases being subject to violence in the household. This marginalization can cause women to resort to further negative-coping mechanisms and additional marginalization and isolation.

Given the particular challenges faced by female migrants, it is essential that the government and resettlement and integration actors (such as ourselves) design programming to take the specific needs of women into account. Whether it is supporting the establishment of women’s groups, or providing tailored language training and cultural orientation for women, or simply ensuring physical and legal protection of female migrants with increased security measures and legal advice, there are a host of actions that can be taken to reduce the challenges faced by female migrants by government and non-government partners.
With proper integration support, female migrants contribute to the British economy, culture and society, as well as ensuring self-help mechanisms are put in place to support other members of the migrant community in their resettlement journey.

Examples of these benefits can be seen in the film ‘Queens of Syria’ and a group called the Chickpea Sisters. The Queens of Syria tells the story of fifty women from Syria, all forced into exile, who came together in Autumn 2013 to create and perform their own version of the Trojan Women, the timeless Ancient Greek tragedy about the plight of women in war.

The Chickpea Sisters are a group of refugee and migrant women from South West London who meet every week to chat, eat, and share recipes from around the world. This type of support and community-building makes the transition to the British way of life far easier for migrant communities.

For IWD IOM hosted a screening of the film followed by an event catered for by the Chickpea Sisters. The film was both uncomfortable in its brilliance in humanizing the Syrian conflict for the audience, taking us on a journey with the brave members of the cast from despair and heartache to moments of hope and surprisingly, humour.

Our event was a celebration of the fantastic achievement in production and acknowledging the forgotten hardships women face in such situations and post atrocity in rebuilding their lives.

I sign off with the thought that there is indeed much to celebrate, but with the truth held in tension that we must not get complacent, there is still work to be done to support migrant and refugee women and to ensure they are able contribute to British society as effectively as possible.

So, I urge you to take a moment and consider the challenges faced by migrant and refugee women, and the good that they bring to this country, to celebrate their strength, intelligence, creativity and inspiration, giving value to the strides they are making towards creating a diverse, equal and just society.

Dipti Pardeshi, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration Office in the United Kingdom (IOM UK)

The European Commission yesterday adopted a Recommendation and Renewed Action Plan for EU member states to consider in their procedures to return men, women and children staying irregularly in the EU to their countries of origin or transit. It encourages member states to undertake swift returns, which limit basic safeguards and rights that should be guaranteed to all migrants, including in cases involving children.

UN agencies and child rights organisations are concerned that the Commission package on Return encourages member states to undertake ‘swift returns’ of people – including children – with reduced procedural safeguards and through the increased use of detention. This approach would put children’s lives at risk and would be in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which every EU member state has ratified.

We welcome the reference in the document to best interests’ assessment in return decisions for unaccompanied children. It is essential for robust best interests procedures to be implemented before any child - including children with their families - is issued a return decision. This cannot be a tick box exercise. In considering whether return is in the best interests of the child, the child’s views should be duly considered. Forced removals and detention are extremely harmful for children and families. Children should never be detained for immigration purposes, even as a last resort.

Earlier this year, three unaccompanied Afghan children committed suicide in Sweden. Case workers said the children felt lonely and were unable to handle the anxiety of the process, nor the prospect of being deported to a place where they did not feel safe.

Returnee children and families are at risk of rejection by their families or local communities in their countries of origin, as well as human rights violations. They often face severe discrimination. They are vulnerable to exploitation, to being recruited by armed groups, or pushed into forced labour.

Rather than address the harm to children already caused by the EU and member states return policies, the Commission document recommends measures that would increase it. It encourages fewer safeguards, quicker and automatic return decisions, more forced removals, and more detention.

Far from addressing the real migration challenges that exist across the EU, these proposals will only exacerbate the situation. Further, there is no evidence that forced removal dissuades people from migrating. Returning them to unsustainable situations increases the risk of further cycles of precarious and insecure migration.

Behind the policy decisions and targets to enforce return decisions are the lives of real children and families. The EU and its member states have long been leaders on children’s rights. We urge them to uphold their commitments to all children, regardless of migration or residence status.

Notes for editors:
A 2012 UNICEF study ‘Silent Harm’ on the psycho-social impact of children forcibly removed to Kosovo found that 1 out of 3 children exhibited signs consistent with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including disturbed sleep, nightmares, flashbacks, black-outs, separation anxiety, social withdrawal and anger or aggression. Nearly one in two teenagers suffered from depression, one in four thought about suicide.

For quotes of children speaking about how forced removal - or fear of it - has impacted them, see UNICEF ‘Silent Harm’ (2012) and PICUM ‘Hear Our Voices’ (2016).

A properly implemented voluntary return policy may be in the best interests of children, whether alone or with families. However, a formal, individual and robust procedure to determine what is in that child’s best interests must always take precedence over migration control objectives, whether children are unaccompanied, separated, or with members of their family. There are numerous safeguards necessary to ensure this procedure is meaningful. Children should not be returned if the only care arrangement immediately available upon their return is institutionalised care.

Further every return decision – whether involving children or not - must also allow for effective access to information, legal remedies and legal counsel. For further information, see OHCHR’s Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders(2014).

Detention is never in the best interest of the child. It has been repeatedly proven that locking children and families in detention facilities has a profound and negative impact on children’s health and well-being, and is unnecessary. A growing body of international law requires governments to expeditiously and completely cease the practice, and all EU governments committed to end child immigration detention at the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2016. Instead, states should promote proper case management support, where children and families can be accommodated in non-custodial, community based settings. Not only is this a legal necessity, it is more effective and cheaper.

For more information, contact:
Elisabeth Schmidt-Hieber, PICUM, +32 2 210 1780,
Karen Mets, Save the Children, +32 499 11 86 35,
Simon Ingram, UNICEF EU Office, +32 491 90 5118,
Irina Todorova, IOM Regional Office for the EEA, EU and NATO, +32 2 287 7113,
Photo: young migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos IOM / Amanda Nero 2015

The UK Government recently announced that it will close the ‘Dubs amendment' scheme (set out in section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016), which allows for the transfer of unaccompanied children from Europe to the United Kingdom. A total of 200 children have already arrived through the scheme and the government has now decided to receive another 150 children, capping the number at 350.

The ‘Dubs’ scheme gives vulnerable children an opportunity to be protected from the risks of neglect, abuse and exploitation which remain very real for thousands of unaccompanied children who are already in Europe. IOM, like many others, is deeply concerned about the closure of the scheme and with it, the loss of a safe route for the most vulnerable children to come to the UK.

Dipti Pardeshi, IOM UK Chief of Mission, says:
“The ‘Dubs’ scheme showed the UK’s compassion and commitment towards the most vulnerable children who need protection at a time when so many are stranded and vulnerable, exposed to increased threats from traffickers, and often forced to resort to perilous journeys in their search for safety and stability. IOM is hopeful that the UK will continue this crucial protection programme and remains committed to providing all necessary support.”

IOM UK joined with 14 other organisations in co-signing a letter to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, highlighting concerns about the closure of the scheme and urging a reconsideration of the decision.

For further information, please contact Christopher Gaul ( or Sarah Di Giglio ( / 020 7811 6000
IOM - the UN Migration Agency - & Migration Collective present a screening of:

Queens of Syria
a film by Yasmin Fedda

in celebration of International Women's Day 2017

on Thursday, 9 March 2017 from 6 to 8.30 pm
at Curzon Cinema Goldsmiths University
Lewisham Way
New Cross
SE14 6NW London
Queens of Syria tells the story of fifty women from Syria, all forced into exile in Jordan, who came together in Autumn 2013 to create and perform their own version of the Trojan Women, the timeless Ancient Greek tragedy all about the plight of women in war.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with producer Georgina Paget.
The audience will also have the opportunity to ask questions to
members of the Jordan-based cast via Skype.

Please click HERE to watch a trailer of the film.

To get a free ticket for the sreening, please register HERE.

UNHCR, IOM and 72 partners today (19/1) launched a new strategy and appeal to help respond to the situation of refugees and migrants in Europe in 2017.

The Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan aims at complementing and reinforcing government efforts to ensure safe access to asylum and the protection of refugees and migrants. It also aims to support long-term solutions and orderly and dignified migration management. Strengthened partnership and coordination will also be given priority in 2017.

“Over the past two years, Europe’s response to the arrival of over 1.3 million refugees and migrants on its soil has been faced with many challenges, including how to protect refugees and migrants. This plan is an operational tool which will play a key role to ensure more efficient operations and a better coordinated response throughout 2017,” said Vincent Cochetel, Director of UNHCR’s Europe Bureau.

IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle added: “We are very concerned about the vulnerability and needs of migrant and refugee children, especially women and girls, and this initiative is exactly what is needed.”

The plan stresses the need for long-term solutions for refugees and migrants, including a robust relocation scheme, support for voluntary returns and reinforced alternative legal pathways to dangerous journeys, including resettlement and family reunification.

Particular emphasis is placed on addressing the specific needs of refugee and migrant children, as well as those of women and girls.

The plan includes pilot projects for a more effective response to meet the needs of unaccompanied and separated children in Europe. Over 25,000 of them arrived by sea in Italy alone in 2016. It also includes strengthening efforts to identify and support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Noting the necessity to address not only the needs of a mainly static population, but also those of people who will continue to move irregularly within Europe, the plan has a large geographical scope and covers Turkey, Southern Europe, Western Balkans and Central Europe, as well as Western and Northern Europe.
The total financial requirements amount to USD 691 million, with a population planning figure of up to 340,000 people, based on previous arrival trends and people present in countries who will receive support through the plan.

For further information please contact Leonard Doyle at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 792857123, Email: