Every year, October 18 is marked with EU Anti-Trafficking day. On this day, Caritas Ukraine draws attention of the society and state authorities to the problem again. Despite its secretiveness and external insignificance, this issue is becoming more and more urgent and concerns many Ukrainians. Economic crisis, increasing number of IDPs, lack of employment opportunities, especially in small towns and villages, urge people to take hasty decisions and make them victims of human trafficking.
Caritas Ukraine has considerable experience in dealing with human trafficking, in particular by implementing project “Support of consulting centers for victims of human trafficking” in five regions of Ukraine – Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk.
Risks of getting trapped have increased with the visa-free regime to EU countries for Ukrainian citizens, as people often agree to tempting offers for employment abroad. That is why the awareness of risks is of top importance for Caritas. Staff of Caritas Sambir-Drohobych Eparchy – anti-trafficking project coordinator, Halyna Kosmin, and Caritas Ukraine national coordinator, Nataliia Holynska, together with volunteers took part in the event at the service zone of Szeginie border inspection post. All travelers were distributed leaflets and brochures, and were able to consult with specialists about the employment abroad and a safe travel. The event was held with the support of Lviv Regional Administration and State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.
Eastern Ukraine faces the same problems, and EU Antti-Trafficking day became a great opportunity for Caritas Kharkiv staff to urge everybody to take off their pink glasses and remain coolheaded while accepting alluring offers of modern employers. In order to raise awareness, Caritas staff went to small cities and towns where people extremely need unbiased information. A training for employees of general education institutions and children services was held in Liubotyn. Its objective encompassed organization and implementation of anti-trafficking activities and measures among the children and youth. On October 18, discussions related to human trafficking issues were delivered for senior pupils. Furthermore, the event aimed at safe employment and staying abroad in the light of modern slavery was held for the unemployed together with Vovchansk district employment center and project “Free legal support”.
During the independence, more than 160,000 Ukrainian citizens have been affected by human trafficking according to the official data of the International Organization for Migration. However, this number can be much bigger as a very small number of people are ready to declare themselves victims. About 90% of victims are those affected by human trafficking abroad, and only 10% in Ukraine. Events to mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day – #WalkForFreedom – were held in 600 cities in 50 countries around the world. Seven Ukrainian cities joined the celebration: Kyiv, Dnipro, Lutsk, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Odesa and Ternopil. Caritas Kyiv also actively participated by organizing a traditional walk at the Independence Square. Staff and volunteers told to Kyivites and visitors about modern slavery and means of its protection, how to help those, who fell into a trap. More than a hundred of volunteers took part in the event, wearing dark clothes and holding dark umbrellas and yellow bandages with names of human trafficking victims, who became free. The same event was organized in Ivano-Frankivsk. The informational and awareness-raising event “Each victim has the right to help” was held at Viche Maidan with the support of Caritas Ivano-Frankivsk UGCC together with the City Department of Youth Policy and Sport and City Center of Social Services for Family, Children and Youth. Volunteers distributed leaflets and told about human trafficking, safe migration and possibility of getting assistance for victims of human trafficking.
As usual, Odesa also actively prepared for the occasion. Actually, the whole October was devoted to raising awareness of locals about risks and dangers waiting for imprudent thrill-seekers. Caritas staff delivered six intense trainings on anti-trafficking issues and worker exploitation for students of Odesa I. I. Mechnikov National University, Regional Medical College, Motor Vehicle College, pupils of general educational school No. 106 and for visitors of the Regional Employment Center. On October 16, #WalkForFreedom took place, with more than 80 participants. Caritas Odesa was one of organizers. Volunteers walked along central streets and handed out leaflets with information about modern slavery and stories of people affected.
“The initiative takes place all around the world, and it is rather important for us to feel our involvement in this urgent issue. We want to draw attention of the city residents that although the slavery was left far in the past, the problem still remains rather urgent in the modern world. Despite living in the era of the information, the level of awareness about the issue is rather poor. We want to appeal to everybody and urge to be careful, share information with others as this is the only way how to prevent modern slavery”, Project Coordinator of Caritas Odesa, Svitlana Kolodchyn says.