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IJM Opens First Anti-Trafficking Program in Central and Eastern Europe

International Justice Mission (IJM) is launching its first anti-trafficking program in Central and Eastern Europe with a team based in Bucharest, Romania, focused on building partnerships and contributing to combatting human trafficking.

The Global Slavery Index estimates that 86,000 people are living in modern slavery in Romania, making it one of the highest populations living in slavery in Eastern Europe. Romanians consistently rank in the top three European countries for the highest number of identified victims of trafficking each year. In 2018, the Romanian government reported that only 48% of confirmed trafficking victims in Romania received assistance.

Since Romania joined the European Union it has been actively taking strides to decrease the prevalence of trafficking within the country and as a source country for trafficking throughout the region. Despite these efforts, the most recent Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report from the U.S. State Department reported that Romania did not fully meet minimum standards on trafficking and there were no overall increases in effort during the reporting period; they were therefore downgraded to the Tier 2 Watchlist.3

IJM is assessing multiple forms of human trafficking—including sex trafficking, online sexual exploitation of children and labor trafficking—in Romania and the region to provide support and develop programming that will complement and strengthen government and non-government anti-trafficking efforts.

Shawn Kohl, IJM Director for Central and Eastern Europe, says “we look forward to bringing IJM’s global experience to the region to support our government partners. We believe that together, we can make a significant impact that will change the balance of power between people who are vulnerable and those exploiting them.”

Romania is a key country of origin for much of the trafficking to Western European countries. Thus, IJM Romania will propel and inform our regional activities and grow our efforts to combat human trafficking across Eastern and Central Europe over time.


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