October 18th marks EU Anti-Trafficking Day, a growing and pernicious crime that disproportionately affects many marginalised groups including migrants and refugees, women and girls, and those living in poverty.

Several of our members provide long-term assistance to victims of trafficking and raise awareness within their communities on how to identify trafficking. Moreover, many of our members, though they do not work directly with victims of trafficking, provide services to people who are most often targeted by traffickers. Services enabling migrants and refugees to access quality work, the provision of basic needs and assistance to accessing housing for people who are homeless or living in poverty and after-school programmes for at-risk children are all examples of services that target the vulnerabilities that traffickers prey on.

Our member Diaconia España provides holistic services to victims of trafficking, from detection, assisting in formal identification, reception in safe accommodation, comprehensive assistance for full recovery and restoration, and seeking restitution. With a long-term view, they also provide job training and assistance to access the labour market. They also provide extensive training on the topic of human trafficking with the goal of raising awareness and equipping police and others who are at the frontline of victim identification.

Our member The Salvation Army recently released a report mapping their work in Europe on human trafficking, which includes recommendations for EU and national level strategies, and can be found here.

The EU has developed a framework to combat trafficking, consisting of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive and on 14 April 2021, adopted a new EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings (2021-2025). The new strategy provides a comprehensive response from prevention, protecting and empowering victims, and bringing traffickers to justice. Our members have raised concerns, however, that there remains more that must be done, for example to harmonise the legal frameworks for asylum seekers who are also victims of trafficking to ensure that their rights are upheld. Furthermore, there is a strong need for long-term protection and residency status for identified victims of trafficking regardless of their compliance in criminal proceedings against their traffickers.

Our upcoming event on human trafficking is open to our membership and will provide a platform for our members to learn more about human trafficking, network with other members who are working on this topic and hear about some of the best practices that have been developed by members.

On the occasion of EU Anti-Trafficking Day, Eurodiaconia commends the work of our members on this important topic and calls for strong implementation of the new strategy and further investment in protecting those who are most vulnerable to trafficking in our communities.