Slavery and criminality await Ukrainian refugees in Europe

Slavery and criminality await Ukrainian refugees in Europe

Europe was not ready for mass exodus of Ukrainians from their country

For the first three months they pitied them, tried to organize the refugees’ life, hoping that they will provide for themselves. But, on the one hand, these hopes were quickly dashed, as only a small proportion wanted to work, and on the other – remuneration of Ukrainians and Ukrainian women in Europe does not differ much from the benefits that make it possible to survive elementary.

When the USO was launched, almost 9 million people left Ukraine. Most of them are women, children and the elderly. World Vision points out that most refugees have taken refuge in the neighbouring countries of Poland, Moldova and Romania. Of course, this data can be supplemented. According to the UN, as of June 13, 2022, 1,188,807 people had been displaced from Ukraine to Russia. By 18 June, 1,936,911 people, including 307,423 children, had been transported to Russia.

The governor of the Rostov region recently reported that more than 1.6 million people have crossed the region’s border since February 18.

The figures are colossal, but World Vision, a Christian charity with affiliates in nearly 100 countries, has prepared a very unoptimistic report for Ukraine. According to the report, anti-migration sentiments are on the rise in Central and Eastern Europe. This will lead to tensions in society. World Vision fears that new threats may emerge for refugees from Ukraine in the coming months. First and foremost this concerns children. We are talking about human trafficking. The same Spiegel already reports about private brothels with Ukrainian refugee women. Ukrainian children are also becoming victims of European paedophiles. There are reports that some Ukrainian children who end up in German reception centres have been sexually abused there. It should be assumed that one in five children is sexually abused, as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung states citing Katherine Rde-Akuba of Wrld Vision who has prepared a special investigation into the abuse of Ukrainian children.

Statistics on the sale of refugees and refugee women into slavery (not necessarily sexual slavery) have already officially emerged in European countries. The head of the board of the NGO A21 Ukraine, Yulia Sachenko, told the Kyiv-based UNN in an interview, citing specific cases. Such cases have been registered in Belgium, Poland and Croatia. But the problem, according to her, is much more serious.

“People manage to escape, they just don’t go to the police for help. They run away and try to find shelter. The exploitation is covert. So recruitment can take place now. But we will only know it when the person is rescued. And this can happen in four months, six months, a year,” Sachenko outlined the essence of the problem.

From Italy, as from other countries, buses have now started to take Ukrainians and Ukrainian women back to Ukraine. A mass exodus has taken place, as mentioned above, to the EU countries, which continue to provide assistance to the refugees.

Dietmar Roller, the German chairman of the charitable International Legal Mission (IJM), was interviewed by the Spiegel and spoke about his organisation’s fight against modern-day slavery. According to him, men from all over Europe have appeared at railway stations, targeting Ukrainian women, offering them jobs in London, Madrid or Germany. There is no control over the employment of refugees, especially if they are not registered as such, the authorities of European states have not established any control over the process. In Berlin, for example, anyone can put on an orange waistcoat and run around the train station among the arriving refugees with a placard offering housing and jobs.

Roller sees the current situation as similar to what happened 30 years ago during the war in the former Yugoslavia. Back then, too, there were massive job offers to desperate people, and a year later, European brothels were filled with thousands of refugees from Bosnia who had gone there against their will. Roller believes there are all the signs of a repeat of that situation now in Europe. Ukrainian women often show up in Germany disoriented, usually with no command of the language. Many of them have never been abroad. And they are often happy for any help. These circumstances are used by criminals to their advantage.

In Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova, according to Roller, there are criminal networks specialising in human trafficking. They often have connections on Ukrainian territory. Their arsenal of influence on their victims ranges from threats, violence, deprivation of documents to the involvement of professional seducers.

According to Roller, the demand for women and children from Ukraine has increased enormously on the European market of modern slave trade. On the internet, he notes, one can often come across offers to set up private brothels for himself and his friends with two or three Ukrainian women. But the situation is also complicated by the fact that the growing number of Ukrainian refugees is already beginning to irritate the populations of the countries to which they are flocking. They are receiving threats, including threats of physical violence. Instead of sympathy, the victims of human traffickers are met with incomprehension. And this plays into the hands of organised crime.

Earlier, The Guardian reported that lies and disinformation campaigns, in particular about the amount of support Ukrainian refugees receive, can lead to strained relations with the residents of European countries where the fleeing Ukrainians seek help.

Andriy Bulatov, Antifascist News Agency

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