04 July 2019
Last Updated: 05 July 2019
by Vera NYGARD

The British Red Cross, Croatian Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, Hestia (UK), Ashiana (UK), and France Terre d’Asile have partnered on the STEP project – the Sustainable Integration of trafficked human beings through proactive identification and enhanced protection- over the last two years. The STEP project was co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union.


The conference was opened by Alex Fraser, Director for Refugee Support and Restoring Family Links, British Red Cross. Fraser highlighted the importance of the STEP project in looking at solutions for making sure long-term protection is available for all survivors of trafficking. We need to simplify the way we search for solutions and always refer to the point of view of the individual. Access to legal rights are key, and we should put achievable goals in place in regards to this. The survivors always need to be at the heart of the discussion. 

Hannah Jackson, STEP Project Manager, British Red Cross, gave a short overview of the project  and introduced guest speaker Francois Bienfait from EASO. Bienfait started off by speaking about the challenges related to THB victims in asylum procedures. The key challenges are a) identification of the THB victims, b) effective referral mechanisms, c) suitable reception conditions, and  d) financing transnational practical cooperation.  Bienfait also highlighted the importance of a victims specific approach, due to the vulnerability of the people affected. EASO has implemented practical cooperation in the form of the Vulnerability Experts Network.  (VEN) The role of VEN is to address vulnerability related topics and crosscutting issues in a holistic fashion. Civil Society is included in the VEN Advisory Group.  Francois Bienfait also presented some of the practical tools on the EASO webpages, which can assist in t identification of victims.

Bienfait moved on to speak about trafficking experience and its consequences as persecution or serious harm. Some of the most severe consequences listed were the risk for reprisals from the traffickers, the re-trafficking risk and severe discrimination in the country of origin, lack of protection from authorities, etc.  

STEP partners from the Netherlands, Croatia and the UK provided learning and insights from the STEP project. An important aspect mentioned was that there is a need for a structural awareness raising in regards to human trafficking. People who are in the asylum system oftentimes might not be aware of the risks they face or the rights that they have in different situations. It was also mentioned that using the word “human trafficking” when speaking with asylum seekers might not be the helpful, as many people have never even heard of it. A suggestion was made to instead simply refer to it as “exploitation”.   

The conference ended with three workshops, and the EU Affairs Office participated in Presentation of France Terre d’Asile and Croatia Red Cross’s guidelines: The identification of victims of human trafficking in transit and destination countries in Europe. The participants were first asked to mention some indicators of a trafficked person. Things such as unclear financial transactions, signs of abuse, unclear travel descriptions, distrust towards authorities, etc, were mentioned. What was clear was that there can be hundreds of indicators of trafficking and they can be both individual and situational. Some practical tools for identification were discussed, amongst others a pocket guide by the Croatian Red Cross that can be used by frontline workers to determine whether a person has indeed been trafficked. A conclusion of the workshop was that there should be a push for more cooperation between different actors that work with asylum seekers, in order to enhance the capacity of victim identification.


TSA to consider:

  • TSA should have a more proactive response in identifying victims of trafficking.  Social workers can be offered training and toolkits to help identify victims.
  • TSA can look for more avenues to highlight its own projects regarding human trafficking, such as “Cheap prices can come at a high cost”.  https://highcost.salvationarmy.org/
Tags: Europe