Eurodiaconia welcomes the EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, launched on 14 April 2021, which aims at fostering the prevention of trafficking, breaking criminal business models, and protecting and empowering victims.

As stated in the Strategy and in the attached factsheet, between 2017 and 2018, more than 14000 victims of trafficking were registered in the EU, and it is suspected that the number of victims must be substantially higher. Around half of the victims are EU nationals, and the majority of victims are women and girls. Almost every fourth victim of trafficking is a child. Most of the traffickers are men with an EU citizenship.

The new strategy builds on the 2011 EU Anti-trafficking Directive, which EU Member States had to transpose into their national law by 2013, and on the experiences following the transposition, among them the heightened use of online tools by criminals and the negative effects of COVID-19 on the expectedly increased exploitation of people.

The European Commission is planning to mobilise both thematic and geographical funding to help the implementation of the strategy focusing specifically, among others, on its gender dimension, on the support to civil society organisations, local actors and activists, and on addressing the special protection needs of children in migration. Targeted funding is foreseen for the running of specialised shelters and for reintegration and victim empowerment programmes.

The Commission also plans to launch awareness-raising campaigns together with Member States and civil society organisations about the prevention and early detection of trafficking in human beings in high-risk sectors and environments; and intends to launch specific trainings on the different perspectives and specific needs and vulnerabilities of victims. These trainings are planned to be delivered in a multistakeholder environment involving all relevant actors, from child protection practitioners to education and health care providers, from law enforcement officers to members of the judiciary.