In September 2013, through the support of the IOM Development Fund, a seven-month needs assessment on the human trafficking situation in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina [BiH], UNSC resolution 1244-administered Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) was commissioned . The purpose was to collect and summarize stakeholder views of the mechanisms and resources available to combat TIP in the region. The assessment sought to identify key gaps related to the identification, referral, assistance and support for trafficked persons. Stakeholders were also asked for their recommendations on how to strengthen existing responses, correct inappropriate processes, and rectify fundamental gaps in regional counter-trafficking resources.
The primary focus on the prompt and accurate identification of cases of trafficking and their appropriate treatment suggests how fundamental these steps are to any effective response to TIP. Without proper identification of cases, it is not possible to identify, apprehend and prosecute trafficking networks, nor to generate the data required to inform prevention activities and improve policy responses. Without appropriate referral and support for all persons who experience trafficking and exploitation, it is not possible to have a comprehensive response to trafficking. As such, the needs assessment focused on these two key components of trafficking responses in the region.
The needs assessment involved six primary steps: (1) a desk review consisting of collection, coding and analysis of documents identified and requested by IOM and supplemented by the research team; (2) development of two tools for identification of stakeholders and their roles to include in the needs assessment; (3) interviews with 37 identified stakeholders in-person and by telephone; (4) an online survey of regional, sub-regional and extra-regional IOM staff and other stakeholders (yielding 99 out of 135 completions for a response rate of 73%); (5) analysis and triangulation of all data sources using a structured coding scheme to develop findings and initial recommendations; and (6) presentation and correction/validation of study findings and recommendations at a stakeholders workshop.
The needs assessment identified a total of 20 primary findings that focus on the issues (1) most frequently cited by informants, respondents and in documents; (2) to which informants, respondents and documents devoted the most time or space discussing; and (3) that were most often identified as salient across respondent types and sub-regional/regional documents. The research team grouped the findings under the following five key areas: (1) emerging trends in TIP; (2) identification and referral; (3) support available to people who have experienced trafficking; (4) cooperation among counter-TIP actors; and (5) gaps in identification, referral and protection programmes.
The recommendations following from stakeholder views and these findings seek to address the primary gaps and priorities identified at the regional level. They reflect the suggestions made by interviewed informants and survey respondents, as well as discussed and validated at the stakeholder workshop. Not all recommendations are equally relevant to each site. There are 15 consecutively numbered recommendations ordered by topic. Additionally, country-level recommendations and priorities for action are included in the recommendations section of the report (Section 5).