WHAT IS THE RISK
Millions of people continue to flee the war in Ukraine in search of safety, food and shelter. 90% of them are women and children.
Unfortunately, once they leave Ukraine, the danger does not end there. People leaving Ukraine are being targeted by criminal organizations. They are at risk of falling into sexual exploitation or forced labor as they move through transit States or seek work and housing in host countries.
Anyone is at risk of human trafficking, regardless of social status, education, age or gender.
The OSCE and Thomson Reuters have partnered to provide Ukrainians with critical information on how they can “Be Safe” and spot the warning signs of traffickers, minimize the risks and get assistance.
THE THREE STEPS TO STAY AWARE AND STAY SAFE
SPOT THE WARNING SIGNS
Traffickers can use a variety of tactics, including using women or other “trusted persons” for initial contact and recruitment. Anyone can fall victim to trafficking.
You may be at risk of being trafficked if the person you are with or speaking to:
- Is offering a job with an unrealistically high salary or an arrangement that looks too good to be true.
- Arranges to meet you alone
- Offers you money
- Approaches you in an unsolicited way such as to offer employment, transportation or other assistance.
- Has removed or is withholding your passport or other identification documents and/or your phone/laptop
- Is forcing you to perform work, services or sex without your consent and/or using psychological pressure and manipulations to gain your consent.
- Is controlling your ability to move freely or forcing you to live or take actions without your consent.
- Is employing you but they are not respecting the agreed working conditions or financial arrangement.
MINIMIZE THE RISKS
At all times
- Try not to be alone, stay and move in the company of others.
- Do not entrust your important documents to anyone other than authorised persons – the police, border guards, embassies, consulates – who have respective identity cards.
- Download the DIIA mobile application to your smartphone to have access to your e-passport, e-driver’s license, student card, foreign passport.
- Make copies of important documents and place them separately from the originals, save scanned copies in your e-mail or in cloud storage.
- Use only official sources of information. Many countries have set up special websites / webpages for Ukrainians and launched hotlines in Ukrainian language.
- Have the contact information of the embassy and consulate of Ukraine in the countries of transit and destination. If you have lost your passport abroad or it was taken from you by force, contact the consulate of Ukraine immediately.
- When travelling, gather as much information as possible about who you are travelling with, what route you will take, the vehicle you will travel in, the crossing point and the address you will be staying and anyone else who may be there too. Share all of this information with your friends or relatives.
- Do not accept unsolicited offers of transportation from any individuals who are not working in an official capacity.
- Check the identity documents of the person you plan to travel with. Never get in a vehicle alone and try to travel in a group.
- Make sure your mobile phone is charged.
- If possible take cash with you as your credit or bank cards might not work in foreign countries.
When you arrive
- Do not make decisions and do not accept proposals from strangers in a hurry, under pressure, or in a state of exhaustion after a long trip.
- Realise that after crossing the border you are safe, and your task is to plan further steps calmly and thoughtfully. Take advantage of official help and places to stay to take some rest before considering the next steps.
- Keep in touch with relatives, and immediately inform them about any change in your location, where and with whom you are going. Agree with your family on a “code word” that will tell them if you are in danger.
- Do not accept unsolicited offers of money, food, transportation, employment from any individuals who are not working in an official capacity.
- Many countries are now registering people who offer transportation or housing for Ukrainians – contact officials or authorized volunteers to check the person who offers you such services.
- Be wary of offers that look too good to be true (such as living in a villa by the sea or making a high salary for unskilled work). Do not hesitate to consult and inform government officials and volunteers about such cases.
- Traffickers are using social media to target potential victims offering housing or other assistance. Be cautious of individuals and ask to see ID if you are unsure, even of volunteers.
- Keep in mind that in many host countries, the system of assistance is still being developed, so after meeting your priority needs, it may be necessary to wait on further steps.
- Check official information and discuss the statuses of temporary protection (https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/stronger-europe-world/eu-solidarity-ukraine/eu-assistance-ukraine/information-people-fleeing-war-ukraine_en), refugee or an asylum seekers abroad EXCLUSIVELY with authorized / official representatives of the country you are in, with an interpreter who will be provided to you.
- The foreign countries’ information on the provision of protection to Ukrainians changes very quickly; please check the information ONLY on the official website of the government of the country you are going to.
If you are approached by a person offering you support, including accommodation or employment, take time to ask questions and carefully check the information before making a decision. Do not be pushed to respond quickly as this can be a way criminals disorient and trap their victims.
When considering an offer, consider consulting with authorities or NGOs, including anti-trafficking hotlines. The professionals there are aware about the patterns used by traffickers in a country and their advice might help you to make a better-informed decision.
If you are being targeted by a trafficker, or at risk of being targeted, and you are in public, try to remove yourself from the situation. If there is law enforcement or other official near you, try to signal them.
If you are in danger and have access to the phone, call the local emergency services, police, trafficking hotline in the host country or Ukrainian embassy in the country.