Belarus Works on Improved Protection for Vulnerable Migrants

Participants at the national workshop on the development of effective national referral mechanism for protection of vulnerable migrants and victims of human trafficking in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: IOM Belarus

Minsk – The Republic of Belarus is stepping up its capacity to protect vulnerable migrants and trafficking victims through an improved national referral mechanism.    

“Recent increase in numbers of irregular migrants heading to the EU through the territory of Belarus, forthcoming international sports events like European Games 2019 and Ice Hockey World Championship 2021, present for migrants certain risks like smuggling and human-trafficking,” stated Taras Seredyuk, of the State Border Committee at a workshop in the capital Minsk yesterday (14/3).  

Representatives from the Belarusian government, NGOs and international organizations used the occasion to elaborate on recommendations to improve the National Referral Mechanism, contributing their frontline expertise working in border management, irregular migration management and counter-trafficking.   

Currently, the National Referral Mechanism is solely for victims of human trafficking while a referral mechanism for protection of vulnerable migrants is still under discussion.    

GLO.ACT – the Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants is an initiative of the European Union and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in which IOM participates. During yesterday’s Minsk workshop representatives presented practical guidelines on how to develop and implement referral mechanisms for the protection and assistance of migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse.  

“The outstanding value of the activities undertaken within the GLO.ACT project is illustrated by in the wide number of stakeholders involved, ranging from national authorities, to civil society and international organizations,” said Chiara Tognetti, from the Migrant Protection and Assistance department at IOM’s regional office in Vienna. “The guidelines presented here are intended for government officials and practitioners working on migrant protection worldwide and can be applied in countries of origin, transit and destination.”  

Heather Komenda, Migration Protection and Assistance Specialist at IOM HQ added: “IOM has been working with victims of human trafficking for over 20 years and we can help partners quickly and efficiently to identify vulnerable migrants, victims of human trafficking and others in need of assistance and, importantly, help them work together to make sure that vulnerable persons’ rights are applied.”  

Belarus is currently working on the development of legislation in the field of irregular migration management via an EU-funded project before signing and implementing a Readmission agreement which is at the final stage of negotiations and will further contribute to good migration governance.   

Watch video here of Heather Komenda, Protection and Assistance Specialist at IOM HQ, speaking about IOM’s work supporting victims of trafficking.  

For more information please contact Olga Borzenkova at IOM Belarus, Tel: +375 17 288 2742, Email: