EU Anti-Trafficking Day

The EU Anti-Trafficking Day was established by the European Commission in 2007 and is marked on 18 October every year since. It is an occasion to raise awareness on trafficking in human beings and improve the exchange of information, knowledge and best practices among the different actors working in this field.

In April 2021, the European Commission adopted a new EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings (2021-2025). This initiative provides for a comprehensive response to the crime – from preventing the crime, and protecting and empowering victims to bringing traffickers to justice. As trafficking in human beings is often perpetuated by organised crime groups, the Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings is closely linked to the EU Strategy to Tackle Organised Crime (2021-2025).

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought severe restrictions to mobility, impacted livelihoods and limited access to vulnerable people. It is having a devastating impact on the household security and health of people all over the world, which inevitably further exposes vulnerabilities and increases the risk of exploitation.

In such context, IOM remains committed to protect and assist victims of trafficking. IOM is combating human trafficking since 1994 and is now the world’s largest provider of direct assistance to victims of trafficking. IOM’s unique access to migrants and victims of trafficking worldwide has allowed it to develop significant expertise in the identification, protection, assistance, referral and case management of trafficked persons.

Addressing and reducing vulnerabilities in migration is also one of the objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. However, this can be a challenge for protection actors and service providers, as there is no internationally accepted definition of ‘vulnerable migrant’, no clear procedures for identifying them, nor operational guidelines for their protection and assistance.

To address this gap, IOM developed a Handbook on Protection and Assistance for Migrants Vulnerable to Violence, Exploitation and Abuse. The IOM Handbook is intended to support case managers, service providers, communities, humanitarian and development actors, States and other actors working to provide protection and assistance to migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse. 

In September 2021, IOM released a new synthetic dataset on human trafficking, made possible by innovative technology developed in partnership with Microsoft Research. This dataset represents the largest collection of primary human trafficking case data ever made available to the public, while enabling strong privacy guarantees that preserve the anonymity and safety of victims and survivors.


The downloadable Global Synthetic Dataset has been released through the Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) – the first global data portal on human trafficking – 
and represents data from over 156,000 victims and survivors of trafficking across 189 countries and territories (where victims were first identified and supported). IOM aims to share the new technique with counter-trafficking organizations worldwide as part of a wider programme to improve the production of data and evidence on human trafficking.

How does IOM mark the EU Anti-Trafficking Day in the region?

To mark the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, IOM mobilizes to raise awareness about and reinforce the tools needed to fight the scourge of trafficking in human beings, which keep threatening many victims across Europe.


As in previous years, IOM Austria in cooperation with the Austrian Task Force against Trafficking is co-organizing an annual conference on Trafficking in Human Beings on 13-14 October in hybrid format in Vienna. In the context of the conference, IOM together with the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation will hold a workshop titled ‘Realizable measures against labor exploitation of agricultural workers in Austria’. More details on the programme and registration are available here.


IOM Ireland is organising a panel discussion around Myths and Misconceptions of Human Trafficking. More information and registration details are available here.

IOM Ireland also plans to launch a six-week online campaign funded by the Irish Department of Justice that will focus on the key messages:

  • Human Trafficking is happening in Ireland. Know the signs to look out for and know how to make a report.
  • Anyone can be a potential victim of trafficking.
  • Victims are often hidden in plain sight.

United Kingdom

An online panel discussion on 20 October will explore the impact of the Nationality and Borders Bill on the UK’s response to modern slavery. The panellists will discuss the key clauses on modern slavery contained in the Nationality and Borders Bill and their potential consequences in relation to prosecution, prevention and protection. The panellists will also reflect on why the issue of modern slavery is being addressed through legislation focused on immigration. The discussion will be supported by IOM UK’s analysis of key NRM data in relation to some of the reforms proposed in the Bill. More information on the event and registration details are available here.


IOM Portugal will participate in an online conversation on networking and working in partnership towards protection and assistance to Victims of Trafficking (VoTs). This activity takes place in the framework of the Regional Network for Support and Protection to VoTs in the Lisbon Region. The event will be streamed live on the social media accounts of the trafficking in human beings campaign called Reservado. This will be followed by the publication of a series of short videos on the work of organizations partnering under the Regional Network. IOM Portugal provides direct assistance to VoTs from Portugal.


At the invitation of the Spanish National Police, IOM Spain will participate as guest speaker in two courses adressed to African policemen, on 18 October 2021. These courses are held in the framework of the Special Cooperation Plan of the Spanish Secretary of State for Security. The aim is to inform about current trends in human trafficking and smuggling from an academic, strategic perspective, outside of the police modus operandi. IOM’s interventions will focus on current strategic issues in trafficking and migration.


The fifth edition of the Counter-Trafficking Weeks ‘Switzerland against Human Trafficking’ coordinated by IOM Bern will focus on the labour exploitation aspect of human trafficking (see press release). Over the month of October, 23 events, including conferences, lectures, film screenings, expert panels, webinars and podcasts, will be organised by government and partner organisations across seven cantons and virtually. These events will be partly open to the public or by invitation only.

The event organised by IOM itself is aimed at trade union members. Trade unions act in the interest of workers, are contact points for problems, have access to employers and are therefore important actors in detecting suspected cases of trafficking. Trade unions can play a crucial role in ensuring that more trafficked persons can be identified and referred to counselling services in the future. The event takes place in Zurich and will also be streamed online in French and German. More information is available here.

Since 2012, IOM Bern has been contributing to awareness-raising and prevention through various activities in the framework of the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, reaching several thousand people in Switzerland to date.

To promote international exchanges on combating human trafficking, IOM Bern with the support of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland also launched a series of podcasts focusing on how to better identify and support male VoTs.


How does IOM support victims of trafficking in the region?


In 2021, IOM Slovakia organized an expert round table with speakers from Slovakia, Belgium and the UK to discuss current trends in human trafficking in Europe, responsible shopping, and the impact of UK’s withdrawal from the EU on counter-trafficking efforts in the country. The Mission also organized three ‘training of trainers’ series for professionals working on human trafficking prevention with young people and other groups in vulnerable situations.

IOM Slovakia updated the mobile application ‘Safe Travel & Work Abroad’ aimed at preventing to prevent human trafficking. The application available in 11 languages can be used for educational purposes and for prevention of human trafficking by professionals working with young people. This is available in Google Play, App Store and on the

The 2021 updated version of the training manual Prevention of Human Trafficking serves as a useful tool for professionals working with young people who would like to inform or educate them about how not to become a victim of human trafficking. The manual is available in Slovak.

All activities were implemented under a regional project with La Strada organizations in Czechia and Poland and financially supported by the International Visegrad Fund.


IOM Belgium and Luxembourg produced a podcast series on counter-trafficking in human beings in French (with PAG-ASA), Dutch (with Payoke vzw) and English (with IOM Thailand) to pay tribute to the frontline workers: the people who support and safeguard the rights of survivors of trafficking. The podcasts can be accessed here.

More information on IOM’s counter-trafficking work in the EEA region is available here.