Trafficking in human beings is a serious human rights violation that concerns men, women and children. While the global scale of human trafficking is difficult to quantify precisely, as many as 800,000 people may be trafficked across international borders annually, with many more trafficked within the borders of their own countries.

Organized criminal groups earn billions of dollars in profits from trafficking and thereby exploiting people, and run a low risk of detection and conviction. Through being trafficked, victims experience severe abuse and endure fundamental human rights violations. Common forms of exploitation include rape, torture, debt bondage, unlawful confinement, and threats against victims’ families or other persons close to them as well as other forms of physical, sexual and psychological violence.

The demand for cheap labour, sexual services and certain criminal activities are among the root causes of trafficking. Poverty and limited opportunities and resources, as well as a lack of social power are among other contributing factors.

IOM’s Approach

IOM takes a comprehensive approach to combating trafficking in persons within the wider context of managing migration. IOM's wide-ranging activities are implemented through partnership with governmental institutions, NGOs and international organizations.

The approach is based on three principles that govern all counter trafficking activities:

  • Respect for human rights
  • Physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community
  • Sustainability through institutional capacity building of governments and civil society

Concrete counter-trafficking activities carried out by IOM include information campaigns, research, direct assistance to trafficked persons, trainings for governments and civil society as well as technical cooperation activities. National and international partnerships strengthen the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of these activities.

Information about IOM's global approach to combating trafficking in persons can be found here.

IOM also contributes to the policy dialogue at the EU level. See details here.


Counter-trafficking in Austria

Because of its geographical location at the centre of Europe, Austria is affected by human trafficking both as a transit country and country of destination. Men, women and children are trafficking in and through Austria for sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, forced begging and forced criminality. The majority of identified trafficked persons come from EU countries, including Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, although nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, China, Nigeria, the Philippines and other regions have also been identified as trafficked persons.

In order to facilitate networking between relevant actors in the area of counter-trafficking, the Task Force on Combating Human Trafficking was founded in November 2004. The Task Force is headed by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and is charged with coordinating and intensifying measures taken by Austria against human trafficking. So as to assure that a broad cross-section of actors are involved, the Task Force is composed of representatives of all competent ministries, representatives from federal provinces and relevant NGOs.

The Task Force has three sub-groups, focusing on prostitution, child trafficking and labour exploitation. These sub-groups provide specialized platforms for coordinating efforts among relevant actors so as to effectively combat trafficking in its various forms.

Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, the first Austrian National Coordinator on Combating Human Trafficking, was appointed by the Austrian Federal Government on 10 March 2009. The National Coordinator is responsible for the supervision of the implementation of the National Action Plan on Human Trafficking and reporting to the Task Force. The fourth Austrian National Action Plan Against Human Trafficking (2015-2017) is currently in force.

Since 2016, Austria has a national referral mechanism on identifying and referring trafficked children. Additional information on child trafficking in Austria can be found here.

Austria is a signatory to all relevant international legal instruments to combat human trafficking including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (2000), Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (2004); the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005); the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (2000); and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1982).

Take Action!

Information on how consumers and private companies can reduce human trafficking can be found here.

Learn more about human trafficking and what you can do about it at (German language).


Katie Klaffenböck 
+43 1 585 33 22 46

Oana Timofte 
+43 1 585 33 22 24

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