UN Migration Agency Recognizes Anti-Trafficking Heroes in Ukraine


Kyiv – Children in conflict with the law, a police investigator and residents of a small Ukrainian village: sounds like the cast of a popular thriller. They were, in fact, all prize winners at the UN Migration Agency’s Seventh Combating Human Trafficking Awards, held yesterday (07/12) in the Ukrainian capital.

The awards are hosted by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in Ukraine to mark the International Day of the Abolition of Slavery. They recognize individuals and institutions that have made outstanding contributions in the fight against modern-day slavery and draw attention to the joint efforts of the Government of Ukraine, civil society and the international community.

The ceremony was organized with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It was opened by IOM Ukraine Counter-Trafficking Goodwill Ambassador and Eurovision 2016 winner, Jamala, and IOM Ukraine Chief of Mission, Dr. Thomas Lothar Weiss. 

“We know that human trafficking evolves and perpetrators flourish in times of conflict and crisis, and indeed many of the trafficking survivors IOM Ukraine has supported were trafficked and exploited in the years of conflict since 2014,” said Dr. Weiss. “And while the conflict is going on, we must speak about the very real risks of human trafficking and emphasize the collective responsibility to fight the crime.”

“Today we honour the heroes who contribute to the fight against trafficking, who have shown determination, bravery and courage, and who inspire us in standing up against this most horrendous expression of modern day-slavery,” he added.

Specialists from the juvenile probation centre in Melitopol, a southern Ukrainian city, and four boys who had had run-ins with the law, were honoured for a trafficking awareness campaign they organized for youth in their region. 

Halyna Brulyova, a senior investigator at the National Police of Ukraine, was recognized for her investigation of an international trafficking case and helping Ukrainian victims to be released from prison in Brazil and return home.

Natalia Lavrysh, head of the village council in Cherevky, near Kyiv, Oksana Demyanchuk, a member of the council, and Tetyana Tymkiv, a local resident, won an award for helping a woman who was trapped by labour exploitation for 16 years.

Finally, the National Police, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, and the All-Ukrainian Counter-Trafficking NGO Coalition in Ukraine were also recognized for consolidating the Government and civil society efforts in building the national referral mechanism for assisting victims of trafficking.

According to research commissioned by IOM, over 230,000 Ukrainians have been victims of human trafficking since 1991, which makes Ukraine one of the main countries of origin of victims in Europe. An IOM survey shows that every fifth Ukrainian is ready to accept a risky job offer that can lead to trafficking. Since the year 2000, IOM Ukraine has identified and assisted almost 14,000 trafficking survivors.


For more information please contact Varvara Zhluktenko at IOM Ukraine, Tel: +38 044 568 50 15, Email: vzhluktenko@iom.int

  • Dr. Thomas Lothar Weiss, IOM Ukraine Chief of Mission, opening the awards ceremony. Photo: Dmytro Kunytskyi / IOM

  • Jamala, IOM Ukraine Counter-Trafficking Goodwill Ambassador and Eurovision 2016 winner, opening the awards ceremony. Photo: Dmytro Kunytskyi / IOM