200,000 Ukrainian Children are at Risk of TraffickingUkraine | March 17, 2022, Thursday // 13:24| views
The most vulnerable people in Ukraine since the outbreak of the war are about 200,000 children in Ukrainian orphanages and foster families. The war and emergency evacuation have allowed criminal gangs to turn these people into victims of trafficking, the BBC reported, quoting US Army veteran Jeremy Locke.
Locke, who heads an orphanage rescue mission in Ukraine, told BBC's Radio 4 today that there was total confusion at the moment, which was particularly palpable in the early days of the invasion.
“There were people who came, wanted to do good and to transport these children and orphans across international borders ... However, the rapid relocation across borders creates an environment and an opportunity for trafficking.”
According to estimates of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine 10,000 children from orphanages and foster families are missing.
“Thousands of orphans are still in danger. And as Russian troops move deeper and deeper into the country, they’re even more at risk. This is an ever-escalating problem that we need to respond to very quickly.”
Bulgarian volunteer organizations also warned about the danger of trafficking unaccompanied women and children. According to their border representatives, the carriers transporting refugees should be controlled. According to them, at the moment there is no such control at the Bulgarian border crossings.
According to UNICEF, almost 100,000 children in Ukraine live in institutions - children's homes or boarding houses, at the time of the escalation of the crisis. Almost half of them are children with disabilities. While institutions try to bring children to safety in neighboring or other countries, it is critical to take special measures to protect children and ensure that the consent of parents or those responsible is obtained, UNICEF warns.
Due to the growing danger of child trafficking, UNICEF has published instructions for volunteers in Bulgaria who organize the reception of Ukrainian refugees. They also provide the following guidelines for the protection of unregistered volunteers in the event of an unaccompanied child:
Make sure the child is unaccompanied or separated from his or her family. Do not separate the child from his parents, siblings or other family members with whom they have traveled.
As the caregiver may be around, ask refugees nearby if they know the child. Do not abandon the child. Unless there is an immediate threat, stay with the child in the same place until you know the caregiver's whereabouts and make sure he or she is in safe hands.
Under no circumstances leave the child with another volunteer. Do not accept help from another volunteer who offers to take him to safety.
If after the steps above you make sure that the child is unaccompanied or separated from his family, ask the child about the name, age, hometown and information about his family. Write down any additional information that may help the authorities find the family and reunite with the child. If the child is unable to provide this information, ask other refugees traveling with him or her what they know.
Keep the child's clothes and accessories with him at all times. This can help authorities find the family.
Contact a competent institution, such as the local municipality, the border police, the consular services of Ukraine in the host country or UNICEF representatives. Share the information from the child and your location and follow the instructions from the relevant institution. Do not leave the child alone.
Do not share information about the child with anyone other than the competent authorities.
Explain to the child what will happen next. Do not promise to find his parents - this can cause further confusion and stress if he/she is instead referred to a competent institution/child protection specialist.
Do not leave the child alone until he/she is entrusted to a competent institution/child protection specialist. Do not leave the child with anyone else.
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