Polish NGO activist honoured by US State Dept

Irena Dawid-Olczyk co-founded La Strada in 1995. Tomasz Gzell/PAP

Irena Dawid-Olczyk, the founder and president of La Strada Poland, an organisation fighting against human trafficking, has been named a TIP Report Hero by the US Department of State in its annual report on trafficking in persons.

In its 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), the Department of State said that "Ms. Dawid-Olczyk has been an important partner for the Polish government for years, and her organization has been the government's primary partner in providing assistance to trafficking victims."

According to the State Department's Kari Johnstone, Dawid-Olczyk was awarded for her leadership in offering direct aid to the victims of human trafficking and for her close cooperation with the Polish government in preventing the abuse of refugees crossing the Polish border from Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Russian aggression against Ukraine had triggered a huge humanitarian crisis that significantly increased the risk of human trafficking, particularly affecting refugees and internally displaced persons.

"Since the beginning of the refugee crisis on the Poland-Ukraine border, La Strada has been actively involved in prevention and public awareness activities," the TIP report read.

"The organization prepared guidelines with basic safety rules for refugees from Ukraine and staffed a hotline to respond to dangerous situations that could be connected to human trafficking," the report added.

Dawid-Olczyk co-founded La Strada in 1995.