EU Anti-Trafficking Day: October 18

EU Anti-Trafficking Day: October 18

Hungary is among the top 5 EU countries of citizenship of registered victims of trafficking

17 October 2023 (Budapest, Hungary) – Fifty million people are living in situations of modern slavery, of which 28 million are victims of forced labour. Action must be taken to fulfill the human rights of victims of trafficking in human beings and migrants exposed to violence, exploitation, and abuse.1 According to the European Commission’s 2018 report, Hungary is among the top 5 EU countries of citizenship of registered victims of trafficking.2  EU Anti-Trafficking Day, observed annually on October 18, provides an opportunity for policy-makers and the general public in Hungary to reflect upon the magnitude of the challenges in tackling the deplorable enslavement of human beings and to honor those who have been victims of this horrible crime.

Despite the growing numbers, trafficking in human beings is not seen as a problem by society at large due to the fact that unlike other violent criminal acts or offences against property, it only affects the subjective sense of safety to a limited extent. Since the mid-1990s, IOM and its partners worldwide have raised awareness about human trafficking and provided protection and assistance to close to 100,000 men, women and children who were trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or for organ removal. Agriculture, fishing, domestic work and hospitality, commercial sexual exploitation, pornography, begging, construction and manufacturing are some of the sectors in which victims tend to be most exploited. 

Some victims themselves sometimes do not realise that they have become victims of criminal activities and may even view prostitution as a chance for better financial conditions. Hungarian citizens are highly affected by both cross-border and domestic human trafficking. Furthermore, as a rising number of Hungarians go to work abroad and may potentially become victim of labour exploitation; especially in sectors such as agriculture, construction and in factories. The most vulnerable groups are those in extreme poverty, the Roma, unaccompanied asylum seekers and homeless men. Women and children, with the over-representation of the Roma, are subjected to sex exploitation within the country and Europe. Between 2018-2022, IOM Hungary supported 43 clients that were victims of sexual exploitation (28), labour (9), domestic servitude (2), forced begging (1), and mixed forms (3).

Crises such as the war in Ukraine impact millions of people, causing instability and displacement and consequently also increase the risk of human trafficking. Key protection concerns include family separation, exposure to violence, physical and economic exploitation, abuse; and subjection to trauma, gender-based violence, and sexual exploitation. The majority of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children, while a few men also make the journey but take more risky irregular pathways. IOM is deeply concerned about the reported increase in human trafficking and exploitation as a result of the war. 

IOM takes a comprehensive approach to addressing human trafficking. Respect for human rights, the physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community, and the sustainability of our actions through institutional capacity development and partnerships are at the center of all of IOM’s counter-trafficking efforts. 

“IOM Hungary is a significant counter-trafficking voice in Hungary and works to minimize the demand for services in connection with human trafficking; and to reduce the risk of Hungarians, migrants and refugees from becoming victims on the supply side. Furthermore, in collaboration with IOM offices abroad, IOM Hungary continues to support returning and reintegration of victims of trafficking (VoTs). The Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programmes are implemented by other IOM offices, for which Hungarian VoTs might be eligible.” – Dániel Bagaméri, Head of Office of IOM Hungary

IOM Hungary has been active in counter-trafficking for more than 20 years. The organization’s latest counter-trafficking campaign was between 1 June 2020 and 31 March 2023 when it conducted a unique “Don’t Let it Happen, Don’t Make it Happen!” anti-trafficking awareness-raising campaign in cooperation with the National Police Headquarters and the Trauma Center (funded by ISF and the Hungarian Ministry of Interior) to draw Hungarian attention to the phenomenon and dangers of human trafficking. The campaign showcased all forms of sexual and labour exploitation including domestic servitude, forced begging, coercion to commit a crime and organ trafficking in order to shape attitudes, decisions and behavior by drawing society's attention to some of the personal tragedies that lie behind the services provided through human trafficking and exploitation.

Furthermore, IOM Hungary, in partnership with the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Interior, implemented the Comprehensive Return and Reintegration Programme for Victims of Trafficking Project between 1 July 2021 and 31 March 2023. The project improved the provision of assisted voluntary return; and of tailored, comprehensive and sustainable reintegration assistance to Hungarian VoTs to prevent re-victimization. Social workers employed by IOM Hungary assisted returned VoTs. In addition, international cooperation between Hungary and the relevant countries of destination were improved, with special focus on Germany.  The cooperative work to identify, refer, return and reintegrate VoTs was enhanced through study visits, an online workshop for Hungarian consular officers, and a handbook summarizing the information gathered on the return and reintegration process of returnees. 

“Even though the root causes of victimization are embedded in poor socioeconomic conditions that only a set of long-term measures of social and education policies can effectively address, there are several steps of immediate impact that can be taken to mitigate the phenomenon. IOM advocates that officials should not criminalize victims and instead should appropriately screen people in prostitution to ascertain whether they are victims of human trafficking who need assistance. More efforts should be invested in identifying victims among vulnerable populations. Security and services should be enhanced at state-run institutes for children. Ultimately, victim assistance should be strengthened, together with raising public awareness of this invisible phenomenon.” – Dániel Bagaméri, Head of Office of IOM Hungary

Across humanitarian and development settings, it is important that counter-trafficking responses address prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership. IOM works in these four dimensions, together with states, civil society, regional bodies, and migrants. IOM offers direct assistance packages to victims of trafficking in collaboration with our partners, to ensure needs are addressed and people have access to timely and quality care. 

Globally, IOM encourages the entire international community to engage in the fight against trafficking. It does so by participating in, and leading, a number of regional and international multilateral processes, including the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), and Alliance 8.7. IOM also works closely with the Hungarian authorities and humanitarian community to ensure that the risk of trafficking is mitigated and addressed from the earliest stages of humanitarian responses. IOM Hungary is a member of both the Hungarian National Coordination Mechanism Against Human Trafficking and the NGO Roundtable.

You can support us in raising awareness by disseminating materials related to safe migration and the prevention of trafficking in human beings. 

#EUAntiTraffickingDay #EndHumanTrafficking #HumanTrafficking #EndModernSlavery

IOM Hungary are much obliged to the particular financial support it received from the Internal Security Fund of the European Union that made these counter-trafficking activities possible.

1Report: Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage (