IOM Provides Assistance to Slave Fishermen
IOM Kiev is currently providing assistance, including medical and
psychological support, to Ukrainian nationals forced to work in
slave-like conditions aboard an old Russian fishing vessel. The
vessel was crab poaching off the island of Sakhalin in the North
A group of at least 24 men, aged between 18 and 50, came from
poor fishing communities on the Black Sea. They were lured onto the
boat after they accepted bogus job offers allegedly to work on
industrial fishing vessels for salaries ranging between USD 1,200
and USD 1,600 a month.
Once the men arrived in Russia’s far east, their passports
were confiscated and they were put to work in slave-like
conditions, without adequate food and water.
“The men suffered from severe sleep deprivation,”
says IOM’s Fred Larsson in Ukraine. “They were only
allowed to sleep less than three hours every second day. At times,
the men were forced to eat crab bait consisting of raw fish and to
drink salt and ice water to survive. They were both physically and
The men were forced to work on the boat without pay for between
six to ten months.
Russian coastguards patrolling the North Pacific recently
impounded the vessel and found the men exhausted and half starved
locked in the hold with tons of poached crab.
A criminal case has been initiated in Russia by the local
prosecutor’s office for the use of slave labour.
It is estimated that up to 2 million Ukrainians are living
abroad and potential migrants are in increasing need of accurate
information before making the crucial decision of whether to go
abroad for work, study or travel.
Over the last five years, IOM has provided direct assistance
such as medical, psychological, legal, family counselling, and
micro-enterprise grants to 2,600 Ukrainians trafficked abroad. More
than 30 per cent were trafficked for various forms of labour
In a bid to provide safe and legal advice on migration, IOM has
opened five Centres for Migrant Advice (CMAs) in partnership with
the Ukrainian government and civil society.
The centres, funded by the European Union and USAID are in Kiev,
Lviv, Kharkiv, Ternopil and Odessa and are operated by
non-governmental organisations. They provide information on the
current realities and possible dangers that labour migrants could
face abroad and the consequences of irregular entry and stay in
foreign countries. This includes information on workers rights
overseas, legal methods of migration and the risks of irregular
migration and human trafficking.
For further information, please call: