2022 Assembly


‘Shady Characters’ lurk seeking Ukrainian children for human trafficking


Photo in feature image by Adrien Bruneau on Unsplash

Article source: Nederlands Dagblad

“The war in Ukraine is leading to mass displacement and refugee flows,” said UNICEF Europe Director Afshan Khan. “Children who are on the run are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking if they are separated from their families.” Suzanne Laszlo, director of UNICEF Netherlands, speaks of “an acute child crisis”.

In order to prevent abuse of these children, the governments of neighboring countries and countries through which the children travel must cooperate more intensively and exchange information, according to UNICEF, the UN children’s rights organization.

The call is partly based on recent research, which showed that 28 percent of victims of human trafficking are children. In the case of the war in Ukraine, the organization fears that this percentage will be even higher, because the vast majority of refugees are women and children.

Hanging around
Indeed, UNICEF employees who are active at reception locations at border posts have already seen “shady figures hanging out at the border crossings”, spokesperson Valeska Hovener said in a response. “To ensure that these figures cannot reach the children, they really all have to be registered.” This includes emergency aid posts that have been set up, called blue dots because of the white tent cloth with blue dots of these posts.

“Children who are on the run are extremely vulnerable.”
Aid organization from under the Dutch Christian emergency aid cluster and the International Justice Mission warned in this newspaper against traffickers who try to abuse vulnerable refugees.

In the first three weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at least 500 children arrived in Romania alone who were not accompanied by an adult – and the real number is likely much higher, according to UNICEF. In addition to fast and safe reception, the tracing of other family members and reunification is of great importance. This also requires more cross-border cooperation, so that the continuation of their journey can also be monitored.

3.5 Million

The number of people who have fled Ukraine is approaching 3.5 million. Figures from the UN refugee agency UNHCR show that many people are still leacing the county, but also that the numbers are smaller than at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 90 percent of the huge group of refugees abroad consists of women and children. Men under the age of 60 must remain in Ukraine to fight against Russian troops. As the war continues, the refugees spread more and more across Europe.