On February 12, 2008, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Ukraine, a UN country team agency, and "Galnaftogas," one of the leading oil companies in Ukraine, signed a Memorandum of Intent to undertake joint and concerted efforts to combat trafficking in human beings and promote the legal and safe migration of Ukrainian citizens.
Mr. Jeffrey Labovitz, Chief of the IOM Mission in Ukraine, Mr. Yuriy Kuchabskiy, General Director of Galnaftogas, Mr. Yuriy Pavlenko, Minister for Family, Youth and Sports, and UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Francis M. O'Donnell presented the initiative and spoke about the most recent trends and scale of the phenomenon of human trafficking.
Yuriy Kuchabsky, the General Director of Galnaftogas, noted that within the framework of initial cooperation with IOM, Galnaftogas placed counter-trafficking billboards at 12 OKKO gas stations in Lviv, Volyn and Zakarpatye regions of Ukraine.
The billboards perform a preventive function, informing Ukrainians about the national toll-free phone hotline established within the framework of long-standing cooperation between IOM and the Ministry for Family, Youth and Sports of Ukraine. The hotline provides those heading abroad with a way to ensure their safety from human traffickers when beyond the borders of Ukraine. Through concerted joint efforts and partnership, IOM and Galnaftogas aim to combat human trafficking and promote legal and safe means of migration for Ukrainian citizens.
Jeffrey Labovitz, Chief of the IOM Mission in Ukraine, praised the company for its commitment to corporate social responsibility and highlighted this instance of public-private collaboration as a worthy example for the Ukrainian private sector
Trafficking in human beings has assumed serious proportions in recent years and has become a modern migration and human rights challenge demanding a strong, comprehensive and coherent response from governments, private sector, civil society and the international community at large. An estimated 100,000 Ukrainians have been sold into slavery since 1991.
Minister for Family, Youth and Sports Yuriy Pavlenko acknowledged the scope of trafficking in persons in Ukraine and pledged to build the capacity of relevant governmental structures to combat this phenomenon. In order to achieve this goal, Minister Pavlenko intends to regularly convene the Interdepartmental Coordination Committee on Human Trafficking and call for an increase in budgetary funding for projects tasked with countering trafficking in human beings.
Galnaftogas joined the the UN Global Compact initiative in May 2007. Francis O'Donnell, UN Resident Coordinator, emphasized that thereby Galnaftogas demonstrated a firm commitment to better the local economy and Ukrainian society at large, adhering to the principles of the Global Compact "Galnaftogas is an active actor on the network scene, contributing new ideas, engaging in all of the Global Compact activities and setting a good example for other Global Compact members" added Mr. O'Donnell.
About IOM Toll-Free Counter-Trafficking Hotline
In April 2007, IOM and LLC Astelit (life:), Kyivstar and MTS, the three largest cell phone service providers in Ukraine, established a toll-free counter-trafficking short number - 527 - which routes all calls to a free IOM service providing information on the current realities and dangers facing migrants abroad, including human trafficking and the consequences of irregular entry and stay in foreign countries. Migrants also get information on legal methods of migration. Since the launch of the number, IOM's national toll-free counter-trafficking hotline 8-800-505-50-10 has received around 7,000 calls via "527".