IOM Budapest launches nationwide counter-trafficking campaign

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


IOM, the UN Migration Agency, has launched a campaign to raise awareness and to prevent victimization through human trafficking in Hungary where thousands of people are trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation each year. 

Between 5,000 and 20,000 people are currently victims of sexual exploitation in Hungary, while twice as many are victims of labour exploitation.

The campaign is reaching out with direct preventive messages to vulnerable groups at immediate risk of human trafficking and to the general population living in the most affected areas, which include Baranya, Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg and Nógrád counties.  

“It is important to emphasize that the many forms of human trafficking can affect anyone. Contrary to the prevailing misconception, human trafficking in most cases does not start with kidnapping, but with consent obtained through false pretenses,” said Balázs Lehel, Head of IOM’s Office in Hungary.

Nationwide research conducted prior to the campaign activities ascertained a worryingly low level of awareness about human trafficking among the Hungarian population.

“Unfortunately, given the general lack of awareness, it comes as no surprise that our survey revealed that 40 per cent of the respondents would submit an application for a job advertisement that does not even state the name of the advertising company. They would also apply for jobs abroad where foreign language knowledge is not required,” said Lehel.

The survey also found that more than 80 per cent of the respondents believed that one can become a victim of human trafficking solely through violent crime and kidnapping.

Lehel explained IOM findings that victims of both prostitution and forced labour typically put their lives, money and personal documents into the hands of human traffickers, who lure them with false promises of a better life, such as a job offer promising a high salary abroad, or the promise of an unrealistically perfect relationship.

The IOM campaign is targeting audiences in the most affected areas of Hungary through multiple channels such as social media, a dedicated website, awareness raising videos, flyers presenting the most crucial facts about trafficking in human beings in Hungary, and through national roadshows to the areas most affected by human trafficking in Hungary.

“Apart from reaching potential victims, it is also important to raise awareness and promote civic responsibility among the witnesses of the phenomenon in their environment,” Lehel added.

During the roadshow stops, counter-trafficking experts from IOM and the Hungarian Police will visit schools and child-care institutions to raise awareness about the dangers of trafficking as the population living in these areas are most at risk.

IOM in Budapest also launched a poster exhibition about human trafficking for students aged 14 to 18 to stimulate conversation about the phenomenon. The best posters will be featured at the regional roadshow events for the public.

The film Viktoria – A Tale of Grace and Greed, which tells the story of a Hungarian girl who falls victim to trafficking abroad, will also be screened at multiple locations.

dedicated website has been set up to inform the public about human trafficking and the organizations involved in providing assistance to victims. The website also features personal stories based on the experiences of Hungarian counter-trafficking experts about the many intertwined forms of trafficking present in Hungary, such as sexual and labour exploitation, forced begging and forced crime.

The campaign is supported by funding from the EU and the Hungarian government.   
For more information please contact Balázs Lehel at IOM Budapest, Tel: +36 1 472 2500, Email:

The original article can be accessed here.