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IJM’s Distinctive Response to the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis (European Anti-Trafficking Programme)

Since February 2022, IJM’s Ukrainian Crisis Response has been providing essential and unique support to refugees in need.

Based on IJM’s prior experience, we believe there will be more human trafficking cases among Ukrainian refugees as the war in Ukraine continues to pass the six-month mark and approaches one year.

How we're working to stop trafficking - now and in the future

IJM collects and combines experiences from working with Ukrainian refugees and with victims of trafficking in cross-border cases from Romania. Based on this diagnostic collaborative casework approach, IJM shares best practices with partners on trauma-informed responses specifically for refugees and trafficking victims.

Additionally, IJM is applying data analytics (Fusion Center), information gathering, and innovative digital marketing strategies to help protect the refugee population from trafficking risks. IJM has hired multiple refugees and others with experience supporting refugees since the first week of the war.

IJM has hired Protection Officers who speak Ukrainian, Russian and Romanian with lived experiences to lead our response to the crisis.

In sum, IJM has developed a comprehensive and unique response to the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis that consists of the following critical pillars of support: prevention, protection and prosecution. IJM’s Ukraine Refugee Response will therefore meet key crisis needs while at the same time further the objectives and goals of the 2030 European Anti-Trafficking Programme Roadmap.

Based on IJM’s prior experience, we believe there will be more actionable leads on human trafficking cases among Ukrainian refugees as the war in Ukraine continues to pass the six-month mark and approaches one year.

In the dozens of IJM labour and sexual exploitation cases we have handled in Europe to date, only one was reported and identified during the first six months of exploitation.

Typically, cases are not reported or identified until more time has passed, so we don’t expect to see the true impact of the Ukraine crisis on trafficking until more time has elapsed.

It is critical to stay abreast of the changing landscape of the risk - which is why IJM is in the trenches working with refugees each day at various centers.

The refugee population is mobile, becoming less resourced over time. As we head towards winter, we anticipate there may be an increase in refugees because of limited cooking and heating resources in Ukraine. Those who remain and those who flee will face massive challenges in the coming winter. As before, large-scale humanitarian needs will continue to be met by organizations with the appropriate expertise and scale to do this, while IJM uses its relationships with such actors to provide our expertise on protection from trafficking for the vulnerable people they are serving. IJM’s unique perspective and expertise with human trafficking in Romania complements more general humanitarian support.

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