By Akanimo Sampson
A new survey by the United Nations migration agency in Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine has revealed that high levels of knowledge about human trafficking do not translate into lower vulnerability.
The survey was presented in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv this December during the International Day for Abolition of Slavery. It revealed that while 86 per cent of Ukrainians are aware of human trafficking, 13 per cent would cross the border irregularly, work without official employment status, in exploitive conditions without freedom of movement, or hand over their passport to an employer.
The figures were 81 per cent and 24 per cent in Georgia, 85 and 11 per cent in Belarus, and 75 and 17 per cent in Moldova. Men are identified as most vulnerable to trafficking in Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia, while in Moldova the risks of falling prey to traffickers are equal for both sexes.
Chief of Mission at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Ukraine, Anh Nguyen, said “IOM is the leading provider of assistance to vulnerable migrants and victims of trafficking in the region, with more than 16,000 trafficking survivors assisted since 2000 in Ukraine.”
Adding, he said, “the latest survey findings about high levels of irregular employment among migrant workers from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Georgia, as well as our empirical knowledge that Ukrainians prefer to look for jobs abroad through informal channels, show the high need for intensified trafficking prevention affords in the region.”
Over one million Ukrainians now work abroad, representing nine per cent of households. In Moldova the figure is 542,000: 41 per cent of people report an extended family member is working abroad.
The level of irregular employment was the highest among Ukrainian external labour migrants (30%), and the lowest among the migrant workers from Moldova (19%). Among migrant workers from Belarus and Georgia, 28 and 23 per cent worked without regularizing their status.
The survey also assessed the number of people from the four countries who suffered from trafficking over the last three years: 49,000 people in Ukraine, 23,000 in Moldova, 11,000 in Belarus and 2,000 in Georgia.
Germany and Poland are the most attractive destination countries for labour migration for Ukrainians and Belarusians. Most surveyed Moldovans would prefer to work in Germany and Italy. Among the Georgians interested in labour migration, top destination countries are Poland and the United States.
This study was conducted based on nationwide representative surveys using personal home interviews in June–August 2019. Some 2,000 people were surveyed in Ukraine, 1,041 in Belarus, 1,106 in Moldova and 1,001 in Georgia.