OSCE: Partnering with Leaders to Prevent Human Trafficking

A college football tailgate tent filled with supplies for moms and babies may be simple, but at the Poland-Ukraine border, this set-up made the difference between exploitation and safety for countless refugees.

Starting in March 2022, Unbound Now operated a crisis response initiative in Poland. Recognizing that refugees experience compounding vulnerabilities to trafficking, we stationed teams of skilled volunteers and staff at the Ukraine border to mitigate risks of exploitation.

For nearly 6 weeks, the afore-mentioned tent functioned as the hub of that operation. Volunteers distributed much needed supplies to traveling families and extended compassionate care. Texas law enforcement partners volunteered their time to serve at the tent.

They leveraged facial recognition technology to support the Polish border patrol in more accurate identification of perpetrators. Together, these efforts reduced risk of trafficking at the much-travelled border. 

The Unbound Now border tent in April of 2022.

Unbound Now has provided for direct services to 23 survivors of both sex and labor trafficking, and partnered with law enforcement to expand the nation’s capacity to address this heart-wrenching crime. Addressing underlying needs in Poland, our teams continue to lead prevent education groups in refugee reception centers, churches, and juvenile detention centers. 

This week, we were honored to join colleagues from across Europe and North America at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) TIP Office in Vienna, Austria. The OSCE functions as a coordinating body for security-related issues for its 52 member states, assisting states in putting good policy into practice.

In roundtable discussions, local leaders involved in mitigating trafficking risks to Ukrainian refugees shared observations, best practices, and opportunities to improve safe guarding of victims in the future. 

Unbound Now at the OSCE gathering in Vienna, Austria.

As often happens in such gatherings, two themes emerged. First, the synergies of working together can make a tremendous difference on the ground. When organizations shared data and teamed up to offer a continuum of care, the target populations were well-cared for and the host community experienced long-term benefits.

Secondly, creative, relationally-informed approaches that consider the human factors of mass movement are most effective. People can often be the best protectors of their own freedom when given accurate information and pathways forward. The moms & babies tent offers an example of such a solution that responded to the specific human needs of Ukrainians crossing into Poland. 

As we approach the two-year anniversary of a tragic war, we remain committed to serving those most vulnerable to human trafficking. We continue to train the facilitators of Poland’s largest refugee service distributors, reach youth with prevention education, and invest in the country’s anti-trafficking system through capacity-building initiatives.

Unbound Now is glad to stand alongside such devoted colleagues in the global fight against human trafficking.  


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