One in four Ukrainians is ready to accept a risky job offer either abroad or in another settlement in Ukraine: to work without official employment and even in locked premises, being unable to leave a work place freely; to irregularly cross the border; to give their passports, phones and personal belongings to an employer. These are the key findings of a survey*, commissioned by IOM Ukraine and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). IOM presented the survey results on the eve of International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, which is annually observed on 2 December to raise awareness about human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
The survey results suggest that 46,000 Ukrainians suffered from human trafficking during 2019-2021: about two thirds of them were trafficked abroad, and one third were exploited in Ukraine. These latest assessments make IOM estimate that the total number of Ukrainians who have suffered from human trafficking since 1991 is over 300,000 persons.
According to the IOM survey, almost 1.2 million Ukrainians worked abroad in 2021, or 11 per cent more than in 2019. Of those, 42 per cent were employed unofficially, compared to 30 per cent two years ago. Eighteen per cent of the surveyed respondents said they were ready to accept an informal job offer abroad, and way more --- 27 per cent, would do so in Ukraine, which indicates that Ukrainians tend to underestimate potential threats in their own country.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has made the population even more vulnerable to human trafficking, as over 2 million persons lost their jobs or spent large amounts of funds on medical treatment," said Teuta Grazhdani, Policy, Liaison and Project Development Coordinator at IOM Ukraine. "During the last two years, we observe the significant increase of internal trafficking. In 2021, 19 per cent of survivors, identified by IOM Ukraine, were trafficked internally, which is over three times more than in 2020."
Since 2000, IOM, together with a network of its partner NGOs across the country, has provided individually tailored rehabilitation assistance to over 19,000 trafficking survivors. This included legal consultations and representation in court, medical care, psychological counselling, shelter, vocational training, a grant programme supporting trafficking survivors who aspire to set up their own business, and other forms of assistance.
The nationwide survey was conducted by Info Sapiens at the request of IOM in September--October 2021. Answers were collected from 5,228 respondents, aged above 14 years old, in every oblast of Ukraine and the city of Kyiv, excluding residents of the non-government-controlled areas (NGCA) of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.