Preventing Trafficking and Protecting Victims in Moldova

The Republic of Moldova is a country of origin for human trafficking. Most victims from Moldova are sexually exploited, but there are cases of forced labour, forced begging, and organ removal. The victims are women, men, girls and boys. While anyone can fall victim to trafficking, in Moldova women, children and the disabled are especially vulnerable. Hoping to find a better life abroad and to help their families, many migrants are lured by false promises and trapped by traffickers. To combat trafficking, the IOM Mission in Moldova is implementing a comprehensive Prevention and Protection Programme.

Assistance, Protection and Prevention

© IOM 2009

Identification is the first step in the assistance and protection process. If the identification of a Moldovan victim of trafficking happens abroad, IOM is contacted to arrange the return to Moldova. On arrival, the victim is offered the opportunity to go directly to the Assistance and Protection Centre, specialized in crisis assistance. Referral to the Centre can also come from within Moldova – from the police, from an NGO or, for example, through a social worker identifying a victim in their own community. However, as preventing a person from being trafficked is just as important as assisting and protecting the victims, IOM's counter-trafficking programme also caters for at-risk cases. These potential victims have a profile similar to that of victims prior to their trafficking experience – vulnerable single-parent families, children, victims of domestic violence, persons with a low level of education, and those from poor rural areas with minimal opportunities.


Through direct attention and assistance, women, men and children can escape the deceptive scenarios and false promises of traffickers. Catering for a wide variety of circumstances requires efforts from several organizations, institutions and individuals. The framework in Moldova for assistance cooperation is established by the National Referral System (NRS) for Assistance and Protection of Victims and Potential Victims of Trafficking. The NRS is designed to facilitate access to protection services by establishing and employing referral procedures for identified (potential) victims in order to deliver quality services provided by the cooperative actors in the field.

The Cornerstone of Assistance – The Centre

The Assistance and Protection Centre is a place of refuge from trafficking in human beings. Operational since 2001, the Centre provides temporary shelter to all victims of trafficking and at-risk cases – women, men and children – in a safe and welcoming environment. Child victims of trafficking and children of beneficiaries are catered for in child-friendly surroundings. During their stay, beneficiaries are offered a wide range of services including medical, psychological, social, legal, educational and recreational services. By the end of 2008, the number of victims of trafficking assisted by IOM and the Centre was 2,443, including 166 children. The victims were trafficked to Turkey, the Russian Federation, UN Security Council Resolution 1244-Administered Kosovo, Cyprus, Serbia, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, while some were exploited within Moldova. In addition, more than 1,300 potential victims of trafficking have received assistance through the IOM programme.

The Support System

Priorities for the Future

Due to the hidden nature of trafficking and the stigma attached to victims by their communities, the real number of trafficking victims remains unknown. To combat this ever-changing phenomenon, the assistance programme is constantly being improved as the demand for assistance remains very high. An essential feature of counter-trafficking is raising awareness, including awareness of the changing methods of traffickers. The government of Moldova is steadily increasing its ownership over the fight against trafficking, including partially financing the running of the Centre. However, in order to ensure quality services and effective assistance to identified (potential) victims, the Centre still requires constant support from donors.