IOM Vilnius Expands Anti-Trafficking Consultations

A grant provided by the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands in Vilnius to IOM will allow two hotlines to continue providing Lithuanians with advice on legal ways of obtaining employment abroad

The IOM Lithuania project “Prevention of Trafficking in Women: Interactive Consultations Via Internet and Telephone”, includes two hotline numbers, which in the past year received more than 1,000 inquiries on issues related to trafficking and employment abroad, as well as face to face consultations with victims and/or potential migrants in need of special assistance.

A new component is also being added: an interactive Web page for on-line advice and assistance. The virtual consultation room will function as a part of the existing counter-trafficking Website www.focus-on-trafficking.net launched by IOM Vilnius in summer 2002. The Website records between 100 and200 visits per day.

Information disseminated through the IOM project is aimed at dissipating myths about various aspects of trafficking and to provide objective information on the possibilities of employment abroad. IOM Vilnius works with foreign embassies, NGOs, labour exchange and legitimate employment agencies, law enforcement authorities, and other relevant institutions.

Although precise information on the extent of trafficking in women from Lithuania are unknown, various estimates indicate that each year 1,500 to 2,000 Lithuanian women are sold to brothels abroad. The main countries of destination are Germany, the Nordic states, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Recruitment methods used by traffickers are becoming highly personalized, by establishing a personal contact with the potential victim. Stories recounted by trafficking victims indicate that they were quite close to the person who offered them a “job” abroad – acquaintance, friend, neighbour or even a boyfriend.

Since July 2002, IOM has provided assistance to 23 victims of trafficking from the Baltic States, the vast majority from Lithuania. Some of the victims were assisted to return to Lithuania, others received arrival assistance, shelter and accommodation, local transportation, medical aid, and psychological support. Some are receiving vocational training and will be assisted in finding a job in their home country.

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