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Ukraine crisis raises threat of human trafficking in Europe

Human Trafficking
2 March 2022
Woman prison 2m

Press release: For immediate release, CARE

Ukrainian citizens fleeing the conflict in their country are at “acute risk of exploitation” by human traffickers, campaigners have warned.

Social policy charity CARE predicts a “disturbing spike in cases” in months to come, as Europe faces mass displacement of Ukrainian citizens seeking refuge.

The charity, which lobbies for greater protections in law for victims of trafficking, is calling on governments across Europe to “step up efforts” to spot and prevent crime given the situation.

Lauren Agnew, human trafficking policy expert at CARE, commented:

“The situation in Ukraine is hugely alarming for those working to combat human trafficking. Governments across Europe must be mindful of the added dangers we now face. Current EU estimates out the number of displaced Ukrainians at over one million.

People fleeing the conflict are arriving in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, and Slovakia. We know that criminal gangs are operating in these nations, waiting to traffic people across Europe and into the hands of exploitative industries, including in the UK.

Traffickers prey on the vulnerability of displaced individuals, who they see as an opportunity to turn a profit. A crisis like Ukraine is a business opportunity for criminals. We expect a disturbing spike in cases.

We call on UK Ministers to recognise the acute risk of exploitation the people of Ukraine face as they flee war and step-up efforts at home and abroad to challenge this heinous industry.”


Notes to Editors

To arrange an interview, contact Jamie Gillies:

About Lauren Agnew

Lauren Agnew is a Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Policy Officer at CARE. Ms Agnew has been involved with anti-trafficking work for the last 7 years. Before joining CARE, she spent time with International Justice Mission in the United States and has also been involved with the IJM Romania Field Office.

CARE’s work on human trafficking

CARE worked closely with politicians on the following legislation:

Modern Slavery Act 2015

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015

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