Counter trafficking

IOM approach

While numbers of estimated victims of trafficking worldwide vary, they are reported as being in the millions and most importantly, they are constantly on the rise. Moreover, estimates often do not include individuals who are victims within the borders of their own countries.

Organized criminal groups are earning billions of dollars in profits from trafficking and exploiting people - many of whom are victims of severe human rights violations.

Trafficked persons are often victims to abuse such as rape, torture, debt bondage, unlawful confinement and threats against their family or other persons close to them, as well as other forms of physical, sexual and psychological violence.

The demand for cheap labour, sexual services and certain criminal activities are among the root causes of trafficking while a lack of opportunity, resources and social standing are other contributing factors.

Trafficking of persons shall mean:

“[T]he recruitment, transportation,transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat, use of force or other means of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the receiving or giving of payment… to a person having control over another person,for the purpose of exploitation.”
Article 3 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

Read more about counter trafficking on our global page.

What we do?

IOM assists 1 in 7 survivors of trafficking identified worldwide through its counter-trafficking programmes and projects

IOM has been working to counter the trafficking in persons since 1994. In this time, we have assisted approximately 70,000 trafficked persons. Our primary aims are to prevent trafficking in persons and to protect its victims while offering them options of safe and sustainable [re]integration and/or return to their home countries.

GoalsFerry Project

At IOM Helsinki, we have been engaged with counter-trafficking since the beginning of the century (2001) though coordinating sub-regional and national activities in awareness raising, training, research and in offering victims of trafficking Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration services. IOM Helsinki represents the Organization in the National coordination network on counter-trafficking of the Finnish Ministry of the Interior.

The focus of IOM Helsinki’s work on counter-trafficking 2015-2020 will be as follows:

1.    Empowering and assisting victims of trafficking

2.    Enhancing counter-trafficking awareness, knowledge and skills for improved impact

3.    Prevention of trafficking through cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination 

These objectives are being addressed through targeted and needs-based activities in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental actors.


  • Private-public partnership in addressing trafficking in persons on the Baltic Sea 
    • Read here the research report “Addressing Human Trafficking in the Baltic Sea” co-funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers and conducted by the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI).
  • Enhancing awareness and networking in counter-trafficking among Nordic health professionals
    • Read here the results of a survey conducted among health professionals in Finland (available in Finnish) 
  • Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) for Victims of Trafficking Finland and Sweden 
  • Public awareness raising campaigns in Finland


54 victims of trafficking assisted by IOM Helsinki since 2011

274 persons trained in counter-trafficking since 2014

242 health professionals engaged in an online survey assessing counter-trafficking knowledge and needs in the Finnish health sector in 2015

72,742 reactions in social media to IOM Helsinki’s counter-trafficking campaign in 2012