IOM and Turkey’s Migration Directorate – Six Years Working Together Against Human Trafficking


Antalya – A country surrounded by regional conflict and mass displacement, Turkey houses four million refugees and migrants. This produces countless challenges, not least among them huge increases in human trafficking.  

Turkey has seen a rise in the number of victims of trafficking from Syria, with the massive influx of migrants from there in recent years. Syrian victims are typically forced into labour and begging. Cases of child marriage, early marriage and forced marriage are also common, due to vulnerable conditions and shortage of livelihood opportunities faced by migrants. 

Human trafficking, and related phenomena, are among the top issues IOM is working on with Turkey’s Directorate General for Migration Management (DGMM), established six years ago Thursday (11/04).  

For this week’s anniversary, experts from across Turkey gathered in the southern city of Antalya for seminars on how to more effectively identify victims of trafficking and assist them in line with international anti-human trafficking protocols and procedures. These sessions were supported by IOM and the governments of Norway and Sweden.  

“It is very important for us to prevent any type of exploitation, especially human trafficking, with a focus on women and girls. We have rapidly developed our capacity over the six years since we were founded to help victims of trafficking and punish criminals,” said Abdullah Ayaz, Director General of DGMM. 

Overall, DGMM reports that trafficking in Turkey is predominantly for purposes of sexual exploitation with victims mainly coming from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. To date, IOM has offered more than 1,400 victims a range of support including shelter, psychosocial support, and assisted voluntary return and reintegration. Read more here.  

Hatice Yesiloz Ozbek, a 36-year-old Migration Expert from the Izmir Provincial Department of Migration Management, shared her experience interviewing cases of victims of trafficking. “I speak with migrants from many countries and learn about the tragedies they faced. Turkey is a helping country and I feel good that I can contribute to relieving migrants’ anxieties about being in a foreign place. Their stories always stay with me – they even come back in my dreams.” 

One of the training sessions focused on examining case studies of human trafficking and sexual abuse. Another session covered linkages and differences between human trafficking and child marriage, early marriage and forced marriage.  

“Turkey has opened its doors to migrants and refugees escaping conflict in their home countries, while others come lured by traffickers with the promise of a better life. Our strong working partnership with DGMM is paramount in the fight to prevent trafficking and provide protection to victims, ensuring they receive the support they need to recover and restore their dignity,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey Chief of Mission.   

The Government of Turkey provides a range of help and services to the victims of trafficking, including residence permits, free health services, legal support, and providing accommodation at migration centres. In 2017, DGMM reported that 303 victims received assistance. 

IOM has worked in partnership with government since 2004 to prevent trafficking and develop effective counter-trafficking responses. These include implementing activities to raise awareness among vulnerable migrants, as well as with law enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors and other authorities. Technical cooperation between IOM, government and civil society partners aims to strengthen counter-trafficking legislation, policies, and procedures.  

For more information, please contact Lanna Walsh at IOM Turkey, Tel: +90 533 698 7285, Email: 

  • Hatice Yesiloz Ozbek, Migration Expert from the Izmir Provincial Department of Migration Management, participated in IOM’s Training of Trainers and shared her experience interviewing cases of victims of trafficking. Photo: IOM/Lanna Walsh