International experts fear that Ukrainian refugees may become victims of human trafficking

International experts fear that Ukrainian refugees may become victims of human trafficking

As millions of women and children flee across Ukraine’s borders in the face of Russian aggression, there is growing concern about how to protect the most vulnerable refugees from persecution by traffickers or other forms of exploitation.

One man was detained in Poland on suspicion of raping a 19-year-old refugee he lured with an offer of asylum after she fled the war in Ukraine. Another man promised work and housing to a 16-year-old girl before authorities intervened, reports SmartNews.

“Obviously all the refugees are women and children,” said UNHCR’s head of global communications, who visited borders in Romania, Poland and Moldova.

“We need to be concerned about any potential risks of human trafficking as well as exploitation, sexual exploitation and abuse. These are situations that traffickers want to take advantage of”, she said.

The UN Refugee Agency reports that more than 2.5 million people, including more than a million children, have already fled Ukraine.

In countries across Europe, including the border countries of Romania, Poland, Hungary, Moldova and Slovakia, individuals and volunteers welcome and offer help to those whose lives have been ravaged by the war. From free housing to free transportation, job opportunities and other forms of assistance, help is just around the corner.