Experts: EU-Ukraine free visa regime to result in many-fold decrease in number of migrant workers and human trafficking victims


Kyiv, July 30, 2015. On the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) published data on the threats of uncontrolled migration and human trafficking in Ukraine. GfK, a Ukrainian research company, produced a report for IOM that indicated the number of Ukrainians under financial pressure, and thus ready be unofficially employed in a foreign country, has recently grown. As reported by IOM, the majority of respondents were young people aged 18 to 35. “First of all, we wanted to know whether they had family working abroad and if they plan to work abroad themselves. The number of unofficial employees has decreased since 2006. There were over 328,000 reported illegal laborers nine years ago, and today this number is roughly 209,000. Nevertheless, the number of people eager to work abroad increased from 3 percent in 2006 to 7 percent in 2015, which is almost three million people,” said Inna Volosevych, Head of the Social and Political Research Department at GfK Ukraine during a press briefing at Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.

According to Volosevych, Germany and Poland are the most attractive countries for Ukrainians. “We have observed a slump in work in Russia,” she explained. A similar situation has arisen with labor migration observed in Moldova. Nevertheless, following the introduction of free visa regime with the EU, problems of illegal work abroad were almost eliminated,” added Volosevych.

According to Volosevych, the number of potential victims of human trafficking is growing in Ukraine. “We have drawn up a list of questions for Ukrainian citizens. We were interested in their willingness to be employed illegally, work in confined spaces, cross the border illegally, work at an unregistered company and give their passport to their employer for the duration of their employment. We received grievous results: 21 percent of respondents are willing to work in similar conditions, which makes almost 200,000 people,” informed Volosevych.

At the same time, ninety-four citizens have been officially qualified as a human trafficking victim, reports the Ministry of Social Policy. These people have agreed to forced labor, sexual exploitation, forced participation in military conflicts, forced organ donation and begging. Eighty-eight of them are Ukrainian citizens and six are foreigners,” said Director of the Department for Family, Gender Policy and Counter-Trafficking in Persons of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine. “Under the Ukrainian law regarding the counter-trafficking in persons, a victim of human trafficking may receive full-service psychological, medical, and legal aid, as well as one-time financial aid,” informed the department director. It was added that the provision of aid is not linked to a victim’s participation in criminal proceedings or availability of identification documents.

Psychological, medical and financial help can also be received at the International Organization for Migration Ukraine. “IOM’s mission in Ukraine has provided support to 11,200 human trafficking victims over the last fifteen years,” said Steven Rogers, Deputy Head of the IOM Mission in Ukraine.

Eventually, the experts listed some rules, which may help Ukrainians avoid becoming victims of human trafficking. The panel explained that a potential employee must make sure work abroad is both legitimate and legal, must never give away their passport and documents, should have all the contact details of their employer and copies of all documents and contracts available, and in case any problems arise, should seek the help of the Ukrainian Embassy. Potential employees are also advised to learn about status and rights of migrants in the country of their destination.