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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: