What dangers can expect Ukrainians abroad

What dangers can expect Ukrainians abroad

What dangers can Ukrainians expect abroad

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, more than 5 million of our citizens became refugees and went abroad. Panic, vulnerability due to military circumstances expose Ukrainians to another danger, no less terrible than the war – a trap called “exploitation” or human trafficking. Yulia Sachenko, in a conversation with UNN, told how the war affected the deterioration of the dynamics of human trafficking, and what you should pay attention to in order not to fall into slavery.

People with a criminal past are potential traffickers

“War – it is always the best basis for human trafficking and human rights violations. This is due to the fact that people are running, fighting for their lives. They are panicked and confused – focused only on saving lives. And this is very successfully used by traffickers, recruiters, traffickers”, – Julia noted.

Those citizens who, due to military circumstances, go abroad – get a sense of false security. Volunteers immediately come to the rescue, among whom there are different people. Someone really wants to help. However, there are those who use the opportunity to recruit refugees who have not yet come to their senses and take them prisoner under the name “exploitation”. Therefore, people who are both internally displaced persons and refugees abroad – extremely vulnerable to a human trafficking situation.

“For example, there have been cases when people with a criminal past (pedophiles, or those related to exploitation) suddenly wanted to help Ukrainian refugees, hundreds of them crossing the border. Their presence was recorded on the border from the Polish side. The police saw it and reacted. But at that time they had no reason to arrest these people, because the crime had not been committed. Therefore, they simply drove them away, asked them to leave the border. But if a person comes with such an intention, he can leave one place and go to another border crossing point”, – explains the director of the organization.

European states do not record official cases of human trafficking, but there are such cases

According to Yulia, European states do not record official cases of human trafficking and the victims. At the same time, there are cases abroad when Ukrainians fell into slavery, but they managed to escape.

“Now there is a moment when European states say that there are no official cases of human trafficking, there are no victims and everything is under control. Although we – public organization, we know that there are cases. People managed to escape, they just do not turn to the police for help. They run away and try to find shelter. Therefore, if it is noted that there are no official cases of human trafficking — we cannot say that trading is not happening right now. Operation is covert. That is, recruitment can take place now. But we will know this only when the person is saved. And this can happen in 4 months, six months, a year”,– the speaker emphasized.

“Flashbacks” since 2014: no cases of exploitation of people were recorded in the east of Ukraine for the first year and a half

Yulia noted that a similar situation in the field of human trafficking occurred in 2014, when Russian aggression began in eastern Ukraine. Rumors that there have been cases of exploitation of – have been going since the beginning of the invasion. However, official data began to appear only a year and a half later.

“There were no official cases, but they began to be recorded after a year and a half. These were horrendous cases, but they began later. Therefore, I predict that we will have cases, but later”, – Julia added.

Who may be at risk of falling into operation

Among the refugees crossing the border, the vast majority –  women and children. The age of such people is different, and they receive different offers. Director “A21 Ukraine” gave examples when, after the start of a full-scale invasion, refugees abroad faced the problem of human trafficking.

“We know of a case where two young girls, under the age of 20, escaped labor exploitation in Poland. They just ran away. There was also a woman who managed to escape labor exploitation in Croatia. She was recruited online. There was also information that a whole bus of Ukrainians was recruited, and they were sent to their place of residence and work, but on the way the police turned them around, something was wrong with the place where they were going. And then no one knows where they went.

In Belgium, about 50 Ukrainians were in labor exploitation – this is official information. I think that the police and government representatives keep their own statistics. They just don't want to create panic among the refugees right now, and in this way they want to present the European states as stable, reliable and safe countries that can provide assistance. But those cases that we will talk about, – they are still ahead”, – Julia told.

Refugees who are actively looking for work abroad fall into the risk zone. After a person crosses the border – he is looking for a place to settle down. The labor market in Europe is already crowded, so Ukrainians, even with high qualifications and education levels, are offered low-skilled jobs that can easily turn into exploitation. So my advice — look for formal employment.

“If you look for illegal work, you may be offered a little more money, but then it can turn into exploitation. And a person can lose his freedom”,– added the director of the organization.

After a full-scale invasion, human trafficking in Ukraine has intensified

“If we talk about exploitation within the country, it has also increased. Because human traffickers are active not only abroad, but also in Ukraine. And very many were temporarily relocated to the west. And there were cases where people reported labor exploitation, – Julia states.

It is noted that as a result of the increase in the number of cases of exploitation of people, the migration police actively cooperates with such reports and people.

How to protect yourself from falling into the trap of human trafficking: tips

The head of a public organization gave advice on how to avoid getting into exploitation when crossing the border:

– Try to cross the border with the help of trusted carriers;
– Follow the news and choose the safest route for your trip;
– If possible, discuss the conditions of travel or accommodation in advance;
– Don't get in the car alone. Try to move around in groups;
– Keep documents with you, make several copies and put them in different places. If possible, make backup copies on separate devices (phone, email or secure cloud storage);
– Divide money (cash) into several parts and keep in different places. Keep the main amount of funds on the card;
– Wear simple, comfortable clothing. Jewelry and precious items should be removed and hidden;
– Agree with loved ones about a code word, sign or signal, which will mean danger and the need for help;
– Check the documents of the carrier or the driver, take a picture of the license plates of the car and send it to your loved ones;
– Do not give your documents to anyone, except for representatives of state bodies of Ukraine and foreign states (for example, border guards when crossing the border, etc.);
– Show your passport. If possible, try to show documents through the application “Diya”
– Keep contacts of people and organizations that can help in case of an emergency. Place them on your phone and write them down on paper;
– Settle only in registered places of residence;
– Do not leave children unattended. Do not trust children with new acquaintances. On the inside of the outerwear, write information about the child (name of the child, date of birth, blood type (information about an acute reaction to certain medications), full home address, phone numbers of parents, relatives or neighbors);
– Get a job officially;
– Use the services of official medical institutions;
– At the slightest suspicion, report to the services and/or organizations: police, border guards, volunteers, humanitarian workers, etc.;
– Don't accept help if you're expected to do something in return;
– Do not make decisions in a state of panic or close to it;

Prepared by: Nina Petrovich