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Human Trafficking Awareness Day

A Boom in Trafficking

Imagine you are a Ukrainian refugee… Imagine you have left your home, your job and almost all your possessions – perhaps your husband, son or father have died or disappeared, perhaps all of the above.

So as we think of the New Year, and our own resolutions – let’s remember Ukrainian Refugees. Trafficking, sexual and labour exploitation of these refugees is on the rise.

During talks in the European Parliament on 29th November 2022, it was found that according to the latest figures from UNHCR 8.3 million Ukrainians, of which 80% are women, have been forcibly displaced. Even before the war broke out Ukrainians were amongst the most common victims of Human Trafficking in the European Union. Since the start of the war, instances of rape of Ukrainian women rose by 260%. Criminal networks are already well established. Online platforms used by traffickers are increasingly recruiting women who end up in prostitution networks or the pornography industry.

Anti Trafficking organisations are calling on the EU to protect Ukrainian, Afghans and Belarusians and calling for the funding of structures dedicated to women victims of violence.

The Salvation Army has front-line experience supporting survivors of modern slavery that human traffickers have moved quickly to take advantage of amongst the chaos of war. Traffickers are waiting to prey on these refugees.

The United Kingdom is also helping these refugees through the Ukraine Family Visa and Homes for Ukraine Schemes. The UK participates in all EU Joint Action Days and between the 24th and 30th October, law enforcement authorities across Europe jointly targeted firearms trafficking, drugs trafficking, migrant smuggling, and trafficking in human beings during coordinated EMPACT Joint Action Days.

In total 34 countries across Europe took part in intelligence-led checks. UK authorities also conducted focused activities targeting child sexual exploitation. Police forces visited children vulnerable to exploitation and disseminated training materials to hotels and local authorities to help identify children in need of help. During these joint Action Days, approximately 20% of potential victims identified in the UK were minors.

Results of these EU actions targeting Human Trafficking;

254 arrests; 910 potential victims identified; 18,430 officers involved, and 205 new cases opened.

As we start 2023, I would ask you to think about how Soroptimists can make a difference, especially on 30th July which is the United Nations Day for Anti-Human Trafficking.

We should also raise awareness on the 2nd December which is the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

11th January is the USA’s National Human Trafficking Day, which began in 2007 and in 2010 President Obama dedicated the whole month of January to awareness of human trafficking.

Janice Wilson
SI Crieff