War in Ukraine increases risk of human trafficking

As of early April 2022, over 4 million people, mainly women and children, have fled the war in Ukraine creating one of the largest humanitarian emergencies in Europe in decades and creating opportunities for criminals to take advantage of them. And now with Russia expected to focus more attacks within Eastern Europe, hundreds of thousands more are exprected to be displace within Ukraine as they move west seeking safety.

The uncertainty for those fleeing the violence can be overwhelming. From finding safe transport and shelter to where the next meal will come, individuals are left vulnerable and are at greater risk of being abused.

Mission Without Borders has been at the border crossings in Moldova and Romania since late February helping refugees with hot meals, clothing, emergency supplies, safe transport, counselling, and advice on where they can find shelter through a network of churches and community centres in nearby villages. In many cases the shelter is a short-term solution for just a few nights as the refugees look for more permanent places they can stay in other areas of Europe.

One of the growing risks both the refuges fleeing Ukraine and those displaced within the country is danger of human trafficking. Although many associate human trafficking primarily with the sex trade, predators can use situations such as the mass exodus of Ukraine to take advantage of people in vulnerable situations by offering them solutions for transport, food, and employment.

In some cases, criminals are offering desperate families in Ukraine transport over the border for unreasonable amounts of cash and creating dangerous situations as they attempt to smuggle men out of the country.

Donate to the Ukraine Emergency Appeal today

UNICEF and other organizations across Europe are calling for strengthened measures to protect those fleeing Ukraine into neighboring countries.

 “The war in Ukraine is leading to massive displacement and refugee flows – conditions that could lead to a significant spike in human trafficking and an acute child protection crisis,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “Displaced children are extremely vulnerable to being separated from their families, exploited, and trafficked. They need governments in the region to step up and put measures in place to keep them safe.”

Families fleeing violence are often vulnerable to being taken advantage of a they are tired, confused, and unfamiliar with their surroundings as they seek shelter.
Many fleeing the war can be vulnerable to being taken advantage
of as they are forced to make decisions quickly when they are tired, 
confused, and in unfamiliar places. 

Mission Without Borders which has close relationships through an extensive and growing network of churches and civil organizations across Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, and Eastern Europe is in a unique position to educate and raise awareness of the risk among those seeking safety, hopefully lowering some of the risks they face.

By giving names and locations of trusted contacts and organizations, and in some cases safe transport, refugees can develop a safe plan as they seek more permanent housing solutions. Having someone to they can trust to ask for help when looking for employment and/or aid can greatly lower the risk of being taken advantage of, especially when decisions must be made fast and in unfamiliar environments.

The risk of refugees being taken advantage of by human traffickers is also present in North America as people rush to offer shelter and aid here in Canada.

The CBC recently reported a mother and daughter from Ukraine thought they had secured a place to live in Canada to escape the war in their home country. But they ended up being scammed out of $2,000 and stranded at the airport in Toronto before finding a safe place to stay in Cambridge, Ontario. See Alena Neklyudova’s story here.

You can help provide aid to those impacted by the war in Ukraine, including families searching for safe resources by donating to the MWB Ukraine Emergency Appeal today. Your gift not only provides tangible emergency aid in Ukraine, Romania, and Moldova, it will help provide hope at a time many feel hopeless.