The international community is struggling with what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the biggest refugee and migration crisis since the Second World War. Meanwhile, human traffickers, as well as migrant smugglers, are taking advantage of misery to turn a huge profit. Criminals prey on vulnerable people in need and without support, and they see migrants, especially women and children, as easy targets for exploitation, violence and abuse. Also, armed conflicts and humanitarian crises expose those caught in the crossfire to increased risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour, organ removal, servitude and other forms of slavery.
Over the past decade, the European Union has stepped up its efforts to fight human trafficking strengthening its focus on prevention and protection of victims. On 19 June 2012, the European Commission adopted the "EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016)”.
The Strategy is a set of concrete and practical measures, based on five key priorities:
1. Identifying, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking;
2. Stepping up the prevention of trafficking in human beings;
3. Increased prosecution of traffickers;
4. Enhanced coordination and cooperation among key actors and policy coherence;
5. Increased knowledge of and effective response to emerging concerns related to all forms of trafficking in human beings.
The EU has further appointed Dr. Myria Vassiliadou as the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. Dr. Vassiliadou is responsible for improving coordination and coherence among EU institutions, EU agencies, Member States and international actors and developing existing and new EU policies to address trafficking in human beings. She also monitors the implementation of the new and integrated EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings and provides overall strategic policy orientation for the EU's external policy in this field.
The EU is further contributing to combatting human trafficking through its active participation in and support to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) here in Vienna. The EU and UNODC have launched the Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) - a four-year joint initiative, implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) through to 2019. Over the past 10 years, the EU has provided funding to the UNODC amounting to €351 million. In 2014, the EU was the second largest single donor to the UNODC and together with the EU Member States’ funding the EU provides around 37% of the UNODC’s total funding. The EU and UNODC are currently cooperating on 24 ongoing projects in 110 countries across the world.