While numbers of estimated victims of trafficking worldwide vary, they are reported as being in the millions and most importantly, they are constantly on the rise. Moreover, estimates often do not include individuals who are victims within the borders of their own countries.

Organized criminal groups are earning billions of dollars in profits from trafficking and exploiting people - many of whom are victims of severe human rights violations.

Trafficking in human beings is driven by a demand for cheap labour, products and services. Poverty, lack of opportunities, discrimination and other difficulties in life make people vulnerable to exploitation, and to fall victim to human trafficking.

Trafficking in human beings can be understood as a chain of events leading to exploitation of its victims. These include:

  • Recruitment of a victim often by offering work or better opportunities elsewhere
  • Transportation or transfer of a victim to the place of exploitation
  • Receiving and harbouring a victim in transit and in the destination
  • Exploitation of a victim (sexual, labour, servitude) for money to benefit traffickers

Traffickers use different methods to lure victims and to keep them working for them, including deception, debt-bondage, psychological manipulation, and even threats and violence.

Definition of trafficking of persons:

“[T]he recruitment, transportation,transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat, use of force or other means of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the receiving or giving of payment… to a person having control over another person,for the purpose of exploitation.”
Article 3 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

Read more about counter-trafficking on our IOM's global page.

What We Do

IOM assists 1 in 7 victims of trafficking identified worldwide through its counter-trafficking programmes and projects.

IOM has been working to counter the trafficking in human beings since 1994. We aim to protect and empower victims of trafficking; to enhance awareness and understanding of trafficking in human beings; and to bring justice to victims.


At IOM Finland, we have been engaged with counter-trafficking since the beginning of the century (2001) though coordinating sub-regional and national activities in awareness raising, training, research and in supporting victims of trafficking with Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration. IOM Finland represents the Organization in the National coordination network on counter-trafficking of the Finnish Ministry of the Interior.

The focal points of IOM Finland’s work on counter-trafficking 2015-2020 are:

  1. Empowering and assisting victims of trafficking
  2. Enhancing counter-trafficking awareness, knowledge and skills for improved impact
  3. Prevention of trafficking through cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination

To meet these goals, IOM Finland works together with partners from public, private, and third sectors in Finland and in Nordic and Baltic countries.

IOM Finland participates in the National coordination network on counter-trafficking of the Finnish Ministry of the Interior.


Caring for Trafficked Persons in Finland project 2017-2019 (funded by STEA, the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations)

  • Leaflet for social and health workers on recognizing victims of trafficking. Available in Finnish and Swedish.
  • Video interviews about caring for victims of trafficking. Hanni Stoklosa, an American doctor specialized in caring victims of trafficking, tells in a three-part video series about the identification of a victim of trafficking, trauma-informed care, and how human trafficking affects the victim's health. Stoklosa works at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She has worked with IOM for many years.
  • Open the door for help. A study material designed for social and health care professionals and trainers to promote the health and well-being of victims of trafficking. Available in Finnish and Swedish.
  • In spring 2019, training sessions were held in several cities for social and health professionals on the impact of trafficking on the health and well-being of victims.
  • In summer 2019, a two-day summer school was organized for social and health education institutions, organizations and organizations interested in counter-trafficking education.
  • A video in which counter-trafficking professionals share advice for social and health care professionals.

Addressing trafficking for labour exploitation

  • Quick guide for employers and enterprises on how to recognize and prevent exploitation and trafficking of seasonal workers. Available in Finnish and Swedish.

Private-public partnership in addressing trafficking in persons on the Baltic Sea 

  • Read here the research report “Addressing Human Trafficking in the Baltic Sea” co-funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers and conducted by the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI).
  • Read here the learning material for passenger ferry personnel.
  • Link to a video in Finnish about this project: "Silmiä avaava koulutus ihmiskaupasta".

Enhancing awareness and networking in counter-trafficking among Nordic health professionals (2015)

  • Read here the results of a survey conducted among health professionals in Finland (available in Finnish). 

Co-operation with The Guides and Scouts of Finland on awareness raising on human trafficking

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) for Victims of Trafficking Finland and Sweden 

Public awareness raising campaigns in Finland


  • Over 110 victims of trafficking assisted since 2011
  • 415 persons trained in counter-trafficking since 2014
  • 242 health professionals engaged in an online survey assessing counter-trafficking knowledge and needs in the Finnish health sector in 2015
  • 72,742 reactions in social media to IOM Helsinki’s 2012 counter-trafficking campaign
  • 1,220,496 audience contacts reached through IOM Helsinki’s counter-trafficking campaign in 2016 

More Information

You can read more information on IOM Finland's Counter-Trafficking Leaflet.