Protection is a fundamental component of IOM’s programming in Ukraine. Protecting persons from threats to their life, dignity and well-being is a priority in IOM’s operations and decision-making during emergency and non-emergency settings. Risks and vulnerabilities to human trafficking, abuse, exploitation, human rights violations, threats, and insecurity are being reduced through IOM’s protection programming that aims to conduct case management services, community outreach and engagement, and capacity-building activities for key stakeholders. The resilience of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other crisis-affected persons in Ukraine are strengthened through activities that realize and maintain beneficiaries’ self-capacities and rights. In the long-term, the protection environment in Ukraine will be strengthened through capacitating non-governmental organizations and government structures to address protection threats, such as human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. Ultimately, the impact of new shocks and crises that communities in Ukraine may experience will be mitigated through the strengthened protection environment.
Protection and specialized case management services
IOM Ukraine is providing general protection assistance to IDPs and war-affected populations and specialized protection assistance to victims of trafficking, victims of exploitation, gender-based violence (GBV) survivors and people at high risk of trafficking, exploitation and abuse. Since 2000, IOM together with a network of partner NGOs throughout Ukraine has already provided tailored comprehensive reintegration assistance to almost 20,000 trafficking survivors, which includes, but is not limited to medical and psychosocial support/counselling, transportation, shelter or safe location, legal services, in-kind material support or cash assistance to meet basic needs, advocacy for access to services, vocational training and income-generating support. Since 2002, IOM has been operating the Medical Rehabilitation Centre for Trafficking Survivors in Kyiv, the only one of its kind in Ukraine, where comprehensive medical care and psychological assistance are provided to beneficiaries free of charge in a safe and confidential manner. After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, IOM expanded the Centre’s technical capacity to also provide specialized services to GBV survivors and people who suffered war-related trauma.
Community awareness-raising and outreach
IOM and partners (members of the All-Ukrainian Counter-Trafficking NGO Coalition) continue to engage war-affected communities to raise awareness about human trafficking, GBV, exploitation, abuse and other protection threats. IOM has been supporting operation of the National Toll-Free Counter-Trafficking and Migrant Advice Hotline 527 (www.527.org.ua; @SafeMigrationBot), which over the first six months of war in Ukraine has provided over 90,000 consultations in response to over 23,000 calls received (exceeding the number of calls usually received during one year of the Hotline operation). IOM creates new outreach tools to convey prevention messages that are appropriate to the current operational context. IOM and partners will conduct prevention activities locally, regionally and nationally as appropriate, specifically targeting persons more vulnerable to trafficking and other protection threats.
IOM works closely with governmental and non-governmental partners to further develop their capacity to delivery protection services for migrants, displaced populations and host communities. This work includes the provision of technical guidance and support, capacity development programming, protection systems assessments and strengthening, data and research, advocacy, coordination, and communication.
Partnership is the basis of IOM’s protection efforts. Working with a growing circle of partners – various government agencies, international organizations, civil society, private companies and individuals – IOM is facilitating cooperation to achieve an effective protection response and greater national input and ownership. IOM has a network of over 30 protection actors (local NGOs with strong community outreach and close relationship with local social services) in all oblasts of Ukraine, out of which 17 are fully operational as of August 2022 despite the war and its wide-spread devastating impact. IOM is an active member of the Protection Cluster, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Sub-Cluster and the Child Protection Sub-Cluster as well as co-leads the Anti-Trafficking Task Force.
IOM is using an area-based, oblast-level approach to reinforce its comprehensive protection programming in Ukraine. Protection is a fundamental part of the humanitarian response because the full-scale invasion caused a nation-wide protection crisis; IOM and its NGO partners continue to coordinate with the local and regional authorities as well as with new protection actors at the regional level, including international NGOs and UN agencies, to further develop and strengthen referral pathways for protection cases and to mitigate protection threats. As of August 2022, IOM protection field teams are present in Uzhhorod, Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Vinnytsia and Kyiv. Presence in Dnipro, Odesa and Poltava will also be established this year to respond to the operational needs.