Labour market integration of displaced persons and refugees as prevention of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation?

VIDC Workshop as part of the conference "No Future for Trafficking" of the Austrian Task Force on Combating Human Trafficking

Time and place

Thursday, 13 October 2022
Conference: 8:45 - 17:45
VIDC Workshop: 13:30 – 16:00
Vienna School of International Studies, Favoritenstraße 15A, 1040 Vienna

Please register until 10 October under this link.


Conference Program in English

Conference Program in German

Concept Note in English

Concept Note in German

The panels will be held in German and English with simultaneous interpretion.
The VIDC Workshop will be held in English without interpretation.

Lunch & coffee will be provided during the conference.

Curators and moderators

Maria Velizarova, consultant for Human Trafficking
Nadja Schuster, VIDC Global Dialogue


© iStock

© iStock

Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine has caused a wave of refugees of over five million people in just two months (2/24–4/25/2022) (UNHCR, 2022). In comparison, one million people fled to Europe in the so-called "refugee year 2015" (UNHCR, 2015). Refugees and displaced persons are among the most vulnerable groups targeted by people with criminal and exploitative intentions to make supposed offers of help and work to them. Ukrainian refugees are composed of 90% women and children, often with low levels of  foreign language skills and/or education, who are among the most vulnerable groups in the context of trafficking.
Reducing the vulnerabilities of displaced persons/refugees is of great importance for the prevention of trafficking for labor exploitation. In addition to covering basic needs such as a secure, long-term residence, adequate housing, and access to the health system, easy, direct access to work and the labor market is essential. The easier the access to work and the more successful the labor market integration is, the less "attractive" are dubious job offers or irregular employment opportunities and thus the risk of human trafficking and labor exploitation is reduced. In order to provide refugees with the best possible support for labor market integration, there is a need for comprehensive offers for language acquisition, education and training, and childcare, as well as the rapid, unbureaucratic recognition of foreign qualifications. In addition, displaced persons/refugees should be given the opportunity for psychological counseling or psychotherapy. Empowering refugees enables the development of their potential as a resource for the society and economy.

How should the access to work and the labor market for displaced persons and refugees look like in order to reduce their vulnerabilities? What are the opportunities and barriers with regard to the integration of refugees into the labor market? What are the specific vulnerabilities of displaced persons from Ukraine? How can the state and private sector support the labor integration of displaced persons and refugees?

The panel

Kateryna Cherepakha

is president of La Strada Ukraine. Since 1997 the Civil Society Organization is active in the prevention of all forms of gender-based violence, in particular domestic violence and human trafficking, protection of the rights of the children, promotion of women’s rights and gender equality.  La Stada Ukraine is a member of La Strada International, Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT). Cherepakha has more than 23 years of work experience in these fields and is engaged in advocacy, monitoring, strategic planning, capacity building, networking, trainings and publications. She works with different stakeholders on the national and international level. As an OSCE National Expert she develops and conducts training courses for emergency (police) hotline personnel on gender-based violence, domestic violence, and child abuse. In 2020 she worked as Council of Europe National Expert on the manual “Combating violence against women and domestic violence. Practical manual for police officers”. In 2022 Cherepakha received the US Government’s 2022 TIP Report Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery Award. In April 2022 she was invited as civil society representative to talk about the atrocities, violence, and risk of human trafficking in the Ukrainian war.

Zvezda Vankova

is a Postdoctoral fellow at the Law Faculty of Lund University. She is the principal investigator of the project “Refugees as Migrant Workers. Labour Migration as Alternative for Refugee Protection in the EU Context?" funded by the Rubicon grant of the Dutch Research Council. Previously Vankova was a researcher at the Department of European and International Law at the Institute for Transnational and Euregional Cross- border Cooperation and Mobility of Maastricht University. She also worked at the Migration Policy Group in Brussels and the Open Society Institute in Sofia. She holds a PhD in Law from the Maastricht University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of EU migration and refugee law and empirical legal studies with a focus on legal migration, integration, and complementary pathways for refugees. She has acted as a research consultant on migrant and refugee rights matters to the European Parliament, the Council of Europe’s Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees, and the UNHCR.

Sarah Strobel

started to work for the NETWORK – Companies Integrate Refugees in 2016 and became its project leader in 2020. The NETWORK comprises 3,100 companies and is an initiative of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Within this initiative, publicly funded projects are implemented in cooperation with federal ministries, chambers, and other partner organizations. Previously she worked as a consultant for Johanssen & Kretschmer Strategic Communication and Raike Schwertner Communications after she obtained her master’s degree in political science from the University of Munich.  

Maria Velizarova

works as consultant in the field of combating human trafficking for VIDC Global Dialogue. As she worked as a psychosocial counsellor at LEFÖ — Intervention Centre for Trafficked Women for nine years, she gained first-hand working experience in the field of human trafficking and victim protection. Currently Velizarova is also working on her PhD thesis “Labour Exploitation of Bulgarian migrants in other EU countries” at the Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Her latest publication is titled “Labour Exploitation of Bulgarian Migrants in Europe: Coping Mechanisms” (2018). In her research she works on labour migration, human trafficking, labour exploitation and labour market integration. In her current position as coach at the NGO sprungbrett she supports girls and young women on their way to employment.

Nadja Schuster

is Gender advisor at VIDC Global Dialogue since 2011, where she works on gender sensibilization of migrant women and men, combating human trafficking and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). Since 2011 she has been cooperating with the Austrian Task Force on Combating Human Trafficking for the organization of the conference on the occasion of the EU Anti-Trafficking Day. She is also editor of Spotlight — VIDC Online Magazine. Schuster researched and published on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Migration and Development, and Reconstruction in Sri Lanka. She studied sociology, international development, gender studies, and development management and evaluation, in Vienna, Antwerp and Mumbai.