New UN Migration Agency Report Sheds Light on Migrants’ Vulnerabilities to Human Trafficking and Exploitation En Route to Europe

Posted: 
12/22/17
Themes: 
Counter-Trafficking, Migration Research

Geneva There are specific risk factors associated with increased migrant vulnerability to exploitation, violence, abuse and human trafficking, according to a new report published yesterday (21/12) by IOM, the UN Migration Agency.

The report, titled Migrant Vulnerability to Human Trafficking and Exploitation: Evidence from the Central and Eastern Mediterranean Migration Routes, analyses quantitative data on vulnerability factors, as well as personal experiences of abuse, violence, exploitation, and human trafficking collected over the past two years from 16,500 migrants in seven countries.

While other IOM reports have documented the scale of exploitation on the main migration routes to Europe, this report is the first to identify key factors associated with increased vulnerability to exploitation and human trafficking during the journey. The data comes from IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).

“The findings contribute to our understanding of the factors that contribute to migrants’ vulnerability to abuse, exploitation and trafficking,” said Anh Nguyen, IOM Head of Migrant Assistance Division. “It improves the evidence available for policymakers to better identify and protect vulnerable migrants on their journeys, in line with IOM’s determinants of migrant vulnerability model,” he added.

“This report illustrates the kind of analysis that can be done with a unique set of survey data collected by IOM. The Displacement Tracking Matrix plays a key role in providing a better understanding of the movements and evolving needs of mobile populations along the major migration corridors,” said Nuno Nunes, DTM Global Coordinator.

The analysis found that migrants travelling the Central Mediterranean route are more vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking than migrants on the Eastern Mediterranean route, even when they share similar demographic and journey characteristics.

Moreover, West Africans are more vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation than migrants from other countries. In general, the presence of conflict in the country of departure predicts a higher vulnerability to exploitation and human trafficking on the journey. Individuals who travel alone are more vulnerable than migrants who travel in groups. Also, the longer or costlier their journey, the more likely it is that migrants will be exploited along the way. Male migrants are more likely to experience forced and unpaid labour, or being held against their will, than female migrants.

The report also found that the factors that predict child migrants’ vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation are similar to the factors associated with adult migrants’ vulnerability. In addition, migrants report that Libya is particularly unsafe; this is a major driver of onward migration towards what they perceive to be safer destinations.

This IOM analysis provides practical recommendations for improved programming along the main migration routes to Europe. These include the early identification and protection of all vulnerable migrants, taking into account the different risks that men, boys, women and girls may face during their journeys, and the different types of exploitation they may be subject to.

To learn more about IOM’s Vulnerability Framework and the DTM, please click here

Related documents:
Migrant Vulnerability to Human Trafficking and Exploitation: Evidence from the Central and Eastern Mediterranean route Report, Executive Summary and Brief

For more information, please contact:
Jorge Galindo, IOM HQ, Tel: +41227179205, Email: jgalindo@iom.int
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Italy Spokesperson, Tel: +393470898996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int
Ivona Zakoska, DTM regional coordinator, izakoska@iom.int or dtmmediterranean@iom.int

  • IOM staff hold Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) interviews in Mineo, Sicily, Italy. Photo: Laura Bartolini / IOM

  • IOM staff hold Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Interviews in Trapani Hotspot, Sicily, Italy. Photo: IOM