2022 Assembly


Caritas Ukraine Serves the Most Vulnerable Survivors of Human Trafficking


News from RENATE Member Natalia Holynska, CARITAS Ukraine.

“I fled Bakhmut, appeared in Kyiv city, no shelter, no resources for surviving, after suffering and violence, without husband, with three small children! I thought I would not survive! I came to Caritas to ask for food and warm clothes for children. But I’ve received not only basic things; they’ve helped me with accommodation and work. I didn’t know what human trafficking is. I thought that it might be my fault! I asked myself why I had to suffer so much and be sexually exploited. I had no idea before war that for my survival and for my children’s sake I would give sex to invaders!”

Alona, 34 y.o, victim of sexual exploitation in Ukraine

Since the beginning of full-scale war in Ukraine the violation of human rights of civilians rapidly increased. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine totally changed human rights situation: millions of our citizens became refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people; thousands of civilians were killed or injured captured, murdered, tortured; they lost everything: their houses, business, properties and loved ones. By IOM statistics over 32 million people are estimated to be affected by the full-scale war. According to the Ukrainian government more than 19 thousand children were forcibly deported from Ukraine to Russia, 484 children were killed, 992 children were wounded. But these are only verified numbers. The real figures may be much higher.

            The situation with trafficking in the country became more difficult, the cases of sexual violation and sexual exploitation are more severe and cruel. We notice increasing vulnerability of population to recruitment and trafficking, especially among refugees and IDPs, more cases of sexual exploitation or sex for survival, involving into war conflict and criminal activities, domestic servitude, different forms of slavery. Though IOM, Caritas Ukraine and other CSO in Ukraine screen a lot of cases of human trafficking, by official statistics of Ministry of Social Policy in 2022 there were only 47 persons identified as the survivors in trafficking (for comparison in 2021 – 64, in 2020 – 134). Possibly because of war realities many cases are not classified as crimes of trafficking but as crimes against humanity. The prosecution of criminal cases of trafficking in Ukraine is also very low. In 2022 there were only 77 cases registered and there were no verdicts on the crime of trafficking in Ukraine.

Despite all these difficulties of war time, Caritas Ukraine continues its work for prevention of human trafficking, screening the potential survivors and providing comprehensive assistance to the most vulnerable ones. Currently we work in 5 regions of Ukraine – Kyiv, Odesa, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv. 

In June 2023 we concluded our 12 months project and may present the main achievements and finding outs. During this period Caritas Ukraine employees identified 130 survivors of human trafficking and all of them received comprehensive and tailor-made assistance. All of them are reintegrated into their communities and 99% are completely satisfied by Caritas provided services. Here is their feedback. 

Ihor, 46 years old, victim of labour exploitation: “I worked for almost 6 months, I didn’t see the way out. At least I had something to eat and a place to sleep. I tried to cover my debt, but it grew every month. I’m grateful for Caritas people who helped me to escape from this slavery. And special thanks for assistance with food and searching good job. I would have never done it by myself, I don’t use computer, I’m a simple mechanic.” 

Maryna, 34 years old, victim of sexual exploitation: “Such a human, tolerant attitude only underline the qualification level of Caritas staff. Thank you! I already can tell about it without tears and shame. I was not the only one in such situation. And it is not my fault!”

 Majority of cases identified are the cases of labour exploitation (56%), sexual exploitation – 26%, 6% of all the cases are involving into criminal activities. There are also cases of forced begging and involving into war conflict and others. Our beneficiaries were exploited mostly in the country (54%), but also abroad, in Poland (9%), France (7%), Italy (6%), Czech Republic (6%) and other countries. The gender of the survivors has recently changed. Before the majority of the identified survivors were men, now – women: 72% are female and 28% are male. It can be explained by the influence of war and growing the cases of labour and sexual exploitation of woman. More details about our beneficiaries are in our infographics

Totally, we conducted 286 prevention and information events conducted for almost 8 thousand participants. More than 46 thousand leaflets, flyers, booklets, posters, copybooks, stickers, bracelets, and other informational and promo production was delivered. 158 thematic articles or posts appeared in social media, newspapers, local radio, and TV. Generally, almost 100 thousand people were informed and prevented from trafficking! 

Caritas Ukraine serves the most vulnerable survivors of human trafficking and appels for justice, freedom, humanity, dignity, inclusion, merciful love, and fraternity!

Prepared by Nataliya Holynska, Expert in counter trafficking:  

Caritas Ukraine: