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Sex traffickers preying on Ukrainian women

Human Trafficking
8 July 2022
Ukraine refugees

Ukrainian prosecutors have announced that they foiled a criminal gang who targeted Ukrainian refugees to force then into sex work.

Kyiv authorities arrested the suspected leader of a gang after months of surveillance saw them intervene and stop a woman being trafficked.

The 21-year-old woman was about to cross into Hungary, travel to Vienna and, from there, board a flight for Istanbul.

She believed a legitimate job was waiting for her in Turkey. In reality, the gang planned to force her into prostitution.

CARE warned of a heightened risk of exploitation at the outset of the war in Ukraine, including by sex traffickers.

On 2 March, days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, our trafficking expert Lauren Agnew told journalists:

“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."

Ms Agnew called for more action from Western leaders, including the UK Government, to challenge heinous industries like human trafficking:

"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.”

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