IOM: Most Victims Trafficked Internationally Cross Official Border Points

Geneva – On the occasion of World Day against Trafficking in Persons (30/07), new data released by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, show that in the last ten years, almost 80 per cent of journeys undertaken by victims trafficked internationally cross through official border points, such as airports and land border control points.  

Trafficking in persons is often seen as an underground activity, linked to irregular migration, and hidden from the authorities and the general public. IOM case data depict a different story, indicating that most trafficking is in fact happening through official border points. This highlights the crucial role that border agencies and service providers at border points can play to identify potential victims and refer them for protection and assistance.  

Women are more likely to be trafficked through an official border point than men (84 per cent of cases, versus 73 per cent for men). Adults are also more likely to be trafficked across official border points than children (80 per cent of cases, versus 56 per cent for children).  

Victims are exploited at some point during their journey in two thirds of cases, meaning that they are likely to cross official borders having already experienced some form of exploitation, while one third may still be unaware that they are being trafficked and may believe they are taking up new opportunities abroad that have been promised to them. 

Khadija, a fourteen-year-old girl, was trafficked through an official border point between Uganda and Kenya in 2015. Without her knowledge, her father had arranged to marry her off in Kenya, and sent her to Kenya with a man she didn’t know. When Khadija and the man reached the border between Uganda and Kenya, he took her passport and told her he would help her clear immigration. He hid her under the seat of the car until they were on their way to the Kenyan capital. Khadija was transferred to members of her family who were arranging the marriage. Luckily, Khadija was able to contact her embassy, who helped her with IOM support.  

Some victims trafficked through official border points carry forged travel documents (9 per cent of cases), while others do not have their own travel documents (23 per cent of cases).  

The figures presented here are based on data from victims IOM assisted during the last ten years, involving about 10,500 journey legs undertaken by nearly 8,000 victims. The data are hosted on the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC), which is the world’s first data portal to include human trafficking case data contributed by multiple agencies. Launched in 2017, the CTDC currently includes case records of over 80,000 trafficked persons from 171 countries who were exploited in 170 countries. 

The final draft of the Global Compact on Migration for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, adopted by UN Member States on the 13 July 2018, calls for whole-of-government approaches to enhancing border management cooperation on proper identification, timely and efficient referral, as well as assistance and appropriate protection of migrants in situations of vulnerability at or near international borders, in compliance with international human rights law. It highlights the need for improving screening measures and individual assessments at borders and places of first arrival, by applying standardized operating procedures developed in coordination with local authorities, National Human Rights Institutions, international organizations and civil society. 

IOM’s new data echo this need and show that national governments should devise and operate robust border management procedures that are sensitive to migrants’ vulnerabilities and protection needs, coupled with well-established systems to ensure that migrants having suffered from violence, exploitation, and abuse are identified and referred to relevant service providers in a timely manner. 

Front-line actors, including border management officials at air, sea and land border-crossing points, can play an important role in facilitating the timely identification of victims and potential victims of trafficking, as well as of traffickers. There is a need to continue developing the capacity of these actors to identify and refer victims of trafficking at an early stage upon arrival, and to strengthen cooperation mechanisms at border points so that victims who are identified upon arrival can be referred to service providers for their protection and assistance. 

It is also important to continue providing training and awareness raising to service providers at border points in departure and destination countries such as airport staff, airline personnel, and railway personnel, and to develop procedures for communication and reporting to local authorities. Leveraging technology at border points could also contribute to improving data collection which, in turn, can help with risk analysis and smarter identification in real-time. 

IOM’s programming provides a unique source of primary data on human trafficking. The organization maintains the largest database of victim case data in the world, which contains case records for over 50,000 trafficked persons whom it has assisted. This victim case data is used to inform policy and programming, including for estimating prevalence and measuring the impact of anti-trafficking interventions. 

Regularly updating policies and interventions based on new evidence is key to improving counter-trafficking initiatives at border points. The new information highlights the importance of leveraging operational data from direct assistance activities to inform counter-trafficking policies and programmes. 

More information about IOM’s Counter-Trafficking initiatives can be found here.  

For more information please contact Harry Cook at IOM HQ, Tel: +41227179111, Email: 

Date Publish: 

Regional review meeting on the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Latin America and the Caribbean

Date Publish: 
21 / 04 / 2021


The Regional review meeting on the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Latin America and the Caribbean will be held virtually from April 26 to 28, 2021. This Meeting is being supported by the various agencies, funds and programmes that make up the Regional Network on Migration in the region. Its purpose is to provide a common platform where Member States and all other stakeholders can contribute to the debate on the challenges, progress and needs in the implementation of the Global Compact in the region.

The meeting will include five thematic roundtables addressing areas such as the promotion of fact-based and data-driven migration discourse, policy and planning; the protection of migrants’ human rights, safety and well-being; irregular migration; the facilitation of regular migration and decent work; and the importance of the social inclusion and integration of migrants.

All Memer States from the region and ECLAC Member States are expected to participate, as well as a wide and diverse range of stakeholders, including the civil society, diaspora organizations, academia, International organizations, among others.


From Monday, April 26 to Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Time zone: Santiago (GMT-4) / Central America (GMT-6)

  Time GMT-4 Santiago, Chile  Time GMT-6 Central America
Day 1: Monday 26 April 11:00 a 16:40  9:00 a 14:40
Day 2: Tuesday 27 April 10:30 a 18:00  8:30 a 16:00
Day 3: Wednesday 28 April 11:00 a 16:30  9:00 a 14:30



To participate in the event, please register at: Register to participate in the GCM review

Spanish-English interpretation will be provided.


The regional review meeting of the Compact will be broadcast on IOM social media. Stay up to date by visiting the following accounts:











DAY 1: Monday, 26 April

11:00 – 11:40

Opening session

  • Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
  • António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Coordinator of the Unite Nations Network on Migration
  • Felipe González, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
  • Representative of civil society and other stakeholders (to be determined)

11:40 – 13:40

Review of progress and challenges with regard to implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Statements by Ministers, Vice-Ministers and other high-level government officials, representatives of intergovernmental organizations, stakeholders, United Nations agencies and others

13:40 – 14:40

Lunch break

14:40 – 16:40

Review of progress and challenges with regard to implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Latin America and the Caribbean (continued)

  • Statements by Ministers, Vice-Ministers and other high-level government officials, representatives of intergovernmental organizations, stakeholders, United Nations agencies and others


DAY 2: Tuesday, 27 April

10:30 – 11:30

Key regional findings from national reports and multi-stakeholder consultations

National reports

  • Michele Klein Solomon, Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, IOM
  • Marcelo Pisani, Regional Director for South America, IOM
  • Paulo Saad, Chief of the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre (CELADE)-Population Division of ECLAC

Multi-stakeholder consultations

  • (to be determined)

11:30 – 13:15

Thematic round tables. Area 1: Promoting fact-based and data-driven migration discourse, policy, and planning

  • Adriana Oropeza, Director of Technical Coordination, Subsystem of Demographic and Social Information, National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), México
  • Aníbal Sánchez, Head of the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), Perú
  • Fabiana Goyeneche, Director of International Relations and Cooperation, Departmental Government of Montevideo
  • Marcela Cerruti, Researcher at the Centre for Population Studies (CENEP), and member of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET), Argentina

Moderator: Christian Salazar, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Development Coordination Office

Rapporteur: Sabrina Jurán, Regional Adviser on Population and Development, Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

13:15 – 14:15

Lunch break

14:15 – 16:00

Thematic round tables. Area 2: Protecting the human rights, safety and well-being of migrants, including through addressing drivers and mitigating situations of vulnerability in migration

  • Lance Browne, Senior Consular Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade, Antigua and Barbuda
  • Lucas Gómez, Border Manager, Office of the President of the Republic, Colombia (TBC)
  • Claudia Interiano, Foundation for Justice and the Democratic Rule of Law, and member of Women in Migration Network
  • Claudia Carletto, Municipal Secretary for Human Rights and Citizenship, Sao Paulo, Brazil (TBC)

Moderator: Carolina Gottardo, Executive Director, International Detention Coalition

Rapporteur: Steve Vergara, National Director of the Human Mobility Mechanism, Office of the Ombudsman of Ecuador (TBC)

16:00 – 16:15


16:15 – 18:00

Thematic round tables. Area 3: Addressing irregular migration, including through managing borders and combating transnational crime

  • Cindy Portal, Vice-Minister for Salvadorans Living Abroad of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador (TBC)
  • Alejandra Mángano, Coordinator, Ibero-American Network of Specialized Prosecutors against Trafficking in Persons
  • Siobham Mullally, United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children
  • Elizabeth Cabezas, National Assembly of Ecuador, and member of ParlAmericas

Moderator: José Monteiro, General Coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition against Trafficking in Persons of the Dominican Republic

Rapporteur: Verónica Supliguicha, General Project Coordinator of Fundación Alas de Colibrí


DAY 3: Wednesday, 28 de April

11:00 – 12:45

Thematic round tables. Area 4: Facilitating regular migration and decent work and enhancing the positive development effects of human mobility

  • Olvin Villalobos, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Honduras (TBC)
  • Jocelyne Clarke-Fletcher, Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs, Saint Lucia
  • Laura De La Fuente, Representative of Red Global MX in Ireland
  • Carlos Mancilla, Deputy Secretary General, Unitary Union Council of Central America and the Caribbean (CSU) (TBC)

Moderator: Andrés Pérez Esquivel, Director of International Affairs, National Directorate of Migration, Ministry of the Interior, Argentina

Rapporteur: Rodolfo Cruz Piñeiro, Director, Department of Population Studies, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), Mexico

12:45 – 13:45

Lunch break

13:45 – 15:30

Thematic round tables. Area 5: Improving the social inclusion and integration of migrants

  • Joseph Hamilton, Minister of Labour of Guyana (TBC)
  • Raquel Vargas Jaubert, Director General of Migration, Ministry of the Interior and Policing of Costa Rica
  • Alberto Echavarría, Vice-President of Legal Affairs, National Business Association (ANDI) of Colombia (TBC)
  • Laura Vazquez, Associate Director, Immigrant Integration, UnidosUS (TBC)

Moderator: Fernando Parra, Director of Migration Policy, National Superintendency of Migration, Perú (TBC)

Rapporteur: Diego Chaves, Migration Policy Institute (MPI), United States (TBC)

15:30 – 16:00

Summary of discussions

  • Presentation of technical summaries from the five round tables
  • Discussion

16:00 – 16:30

Closing session

  • António Vitorino, Director General of IOM and Coordinator United Nations Network on Migration
  • Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC