Since May 2016, Caritas Ukraine launched the project to help people affected by human trafficking. The purpose of the project is to promote social and professional integration of trafficking victims and to prevent trafficking. It is possible by providing counseling to potential victims, especially labor migrants, children and groups at risk. Consulting Centers opened in Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Odessa and Kharkiv regions.
Consulting centers provide comprehensive integrational assistance for trafficking victims. They find there psychological support, one-time financial assistance, advice on legal ways of employment or safe trip abroad, information about threats of human trafficking, as well as about possible assistance from state social organizations. In many cases, complex assistance in reintegration can turn into a long-term social support. In addition, centers are planning preventive actions for not only working with victims of crime but also increasing level of consciousness and awareness of risk groups.
“The last two years were very difficult for Ukraine: Euromaidan revolution, annexation of Crimea, military conflict in the east of the country, a wave of internally displaced persons, deepening of economic crisis, unemployment, devaluation, etc. All these events had a negative impact on the Ukrainian society especially on the most vulnerable social groups. These processes have led to a rapid increase in migration within state and labor migration abroad. Increased incidents of human trafficking are also apparent. In situation of armed conflict and political crisis, men, women and children are suffering from various forms of trafficking, such as labor and sexual exploitation, forced begging, involvement of children in armed conflict, involvement in criminal activity, forced early marriages, organ trade, sale of children, using people on the Internet and other forms of ill-treatment abroad and within Ukraine. Lack of information and imperfect social security system in Ukraine lead to an increase in the number of people affected by human trafficking.”- Said Caritas Ukraine Anti-Trafficking Project Coordinator Natalia Holynska.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), over 160 thousand Ukrainians became victims of modern slavery over the past 24 years. Although the official statistics of the Ministry of Social Policy in the years 2012-2015 acknowledges in status of a person who suffered from human trafficking only 94 citizens, including 41.5% of men, the same percentage of women, and 17% of them are children (!). In most cases we can speak about labor exploitation – 42, sexual exploitation – 24, 19 cases of begging and combined forms of trade. Along with Russia, Ukraine is leader among the countries where our citizens have been victims of trafficking.
In 2015 the US State Department published annual report on human trafficking in the world. For several years, Ukraine gets into the second category – countries that require supervision. The report describes Ukraine as “a country of origin, transit and destination for men, women and children forced to labor and sexual exploitation.” Ukrainians are victims of trafficking not only in Ukraine but also in Russia, Poland and other European countries, like Turkey, the United States, Central Asia and the Middle East. After Russian aggression, over 1.7 million people from Eastern Ukraine became IDPs. These people are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and need preventive support and consulting.