Ukrainian children fleeing the conflict are in danger of being trafficked as they flee their country, the European Union’s migration commissioner warned.
At a news conference in Estonia on Monday, Ylva Johansson said about half of 3.3 million Ukrainians who had fled to EU countries since the Russian invasion were children, and “many more millions” were expected to come.
“There is a huge risk of vulnerable children being trafficked,” she said.
Ukraine has a high number of orphans and children born through surrogate mothers who had not been picked up by their parents. That increased the risk that they could be abducted or become victims of forced adoptions, Ms. Johansson said.
She noted that so far there had been very few unaccompanied children reported at EU borders, and only few reports of trafficking.
However, police forces, activists and Ukraine’s women organisations had signaled some “alarming” cases, she said, noting that in past situations of mass migration these abuses were common.
“We should not wait until we have proof of a lot of trafficking because then it may be too late,” Ms. Johansson said, adding that a large awareness campaign on this risk had to be carried out immediately.
Ms. Johansson said that risks could surface at borders where criminals disguised as helpers could take advantage of vulnerable people offering shelter to arriving migrants. (Source: Arab News)