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March 15, 2022

Anti-trafficking organizations unite to condemn Ukraine invasion and traffickers’ attempts to target fleeing victims

Leading non-profit groups in the fight against human trafficking say that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is feeding instability and dramatically raising the risk of human trafficking in the region

 

More than 70 of the world’s leading anti-trafficking organizations have come together to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact it is having on the risk of human trafficking in the region.

 

 

They have signed an open letter that reads in part: “As long as the military invasion of Ukraine continues, the vulnerability of displaced people in the country to human trafficking will increase due to deteriorating rule of law and impunity; further forced displacement; humanitarian need and socio-economic stress and social fragmentation. Human trafficking will also escalate in the countries to where people from Ukraine are fleeing. There have also been deeply concerning reports of attempts to traffic women and girls fleeing Ukraine in neighboring countries, including Poland and Romania.”

 

Signatories include the leaders of major anti-trafficking groups like Hope for Justice, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), Shared Hope, The Freedom Fund, and ECPAT USA, and many others from across the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.

 

The signatories call for the Russian authorities to withdraw their troops immediately from Ukraine, and they call for investigations into potential war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations associated with human trafficking (by either party). They call on the countries that are welcoming refugees to ensure they implement effective prevention measures against human trafficking. They list measures including training for frontline agencies; safe and legal routes for those who are fleeing; measures to more easily enable potential victims to be identified; trauma-informed and holistic care to be made available for survivors of trafficking; and steps taken to ensure perpetrator accountability. With these countries already doing so much to assist refugees, the signatories ask the wider international community to shoulder some of the financial burden of these vital measures.

 

The letter-writers say: “Human trafficking and conflict feed each other. By promising stability, security and employment, traffickers often appear to offer a greater prospect of hope for individuals who might have left everything behind.”

 

A study by U.N. agency the International Labour Organization estimated that human trafficking generates at least $150bn in illicit profits every year for organized criminals, which further fuels global instability and insecurity.

 

Read the full letter from the anti-trafficking community condemning the invasion of Ukraine (PDF, 1mb)

 

Signatories:

 

    1. Tim Nelson, CEO, Hope for Justice and Slave-Free Alliance
    2. Nick Grono, CEO, The Freedom Fund
    3. Red Godfrey-Sagoo, CEO, Sophie Hayes Foundation
    4. Joy M Gillespie, CEO, Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland (SOHTIS)
    5. Linda Smith, Founder and President, Shared Hope International
    6. Andrew Wallis, CEO and Founder, Unseen
    7. Dawn Hawkins, CEO, National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
    8. Christian Guy, CEO, Justice and Care
    9. Helen Sworn, Executive Director and Founder, Chab Dai
    10. Deb Sigmund, Founder, Innocents at Risk
    11. Elizabeth Fisher Good, Founder & CEO, The Foundation United
    12. Leanne Rhodes, Executive Director, European Freedom Network
    13. Harriett Baldwin MP, Chair, British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
    14. Karen Bradley MP, UK Former Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime
    15. Patricia Durr, CEO, ECPAT UK
    16. Ann-Kristin Vervik, Generalsekretær/Executive Director,  ECPAT Norway
    17. Lori L Cohen, CEO, ECPAT USA
    18. Richard Beard, CEO, Jericho Foundation
    19. Mick Clarke, CEO, The Passage
    20. Kim Westfall, Founder, Uncaged
    21. David Gadd, Professor of Criminology
    22. Bronagh Andrew, Operations Manager, The TARA Service
    23. Kirsty Thomson, Managing Director, JustRight Scotland
    24. Martin Hancock, CEO, BCHA
    25. Emily Chalke, Co Director, Ella’s House
    26. Lara Bundock, CEO and Founder, Snowdrop Project
    27. Kush Chottera, CEO, Europia
    28. Fred Sherling, General Manager, Fair Play Bygg Rogland Norway
    29. Yvonne Hall, Founder and Co-Chief Executive, Palm Cove Society
    30. Ragnhild Lindahl Torstensen, CEO, Lightup Norway
    31. Victoria Marks, Director and Solicitor, Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit
    32. Liz Griffith, Head of Policy and Research, Migration Justice Project at Law Centre Northern Ireland Law Centre
    33. Jon Lord, CEO, Bolton at Home
    34. Dr Carole Murphy, Director, Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse
    35. Dr Ruth Van Dyke, Acting Director, Training Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse
    36. Rev Ian Howarth (Adavu Chair) and Liisa Wiseman (Adavu Project Manager) Adavu Project
    37. Leanne Rhodes, CEO and Founder, Abolishion
    38. Erhard Hermansen, General Secretary, Christian Council of Norway
    39. Rita Gava, Director, Kalayaan
    40. Karen Anstiss, Service Manager, Caritas Bakhita House
    41. Wanjiku Ngotho-Mbugua, Acting Chief Executive, Bawso
    42. Ed Newton, CEO, City Hearts
    43. Gayle Bunting, Director, Invisible Traffick
    44. Amber Cagney, Development Manager, West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network
    45. Ross Hendry, CEO, Christian Care Research and Education (CARE)
    46. Matthew Evans, Director, The AIRE Centre
    47. Jillian McBride, Children’s Policy Officer, Scottish Refugee Council
    48. Moya Woolven, CEO, Basis Yorkshire
    49. Modupe Debbie Ariyo OBE, CEO, AFRUCA
    50. Ashleigh Chapman, President, AFRJ (Alliance for Freedom, Restoration and Justice)
    51. Rushan Abbas, Executive Director, Campaign for Uyghurs
    52. Coreen Lategan, Executive Director, Kainos e.V. Germany
    53. Bettina Kneisler, First Chairperson, Projekt Schattentöchter e.V.
    54. Rachel Witkin, Head of Counter-Trafficking and Publications, Helen Bamber Foundation
    55. Anja Slabbekoorn, President, Spring2Freedom
    56. Andrew Hoskins, Vice President of International Programs, The Exodus Road
    57. Courtney Skiera-Vaughn, Director of International Programs, Free The Girls
    58. Jerry Gowen, CXO, Operation Underground Railroad
    59. Korrin Moon, Co-Founder, Lantern Rescue
    60. Alison Ussery, Director, Haven of Light CIC
    61. Jacqueline Joudo Larsen, Deputy Director; and Grace Forrest, Founding Director, Walk Free
    62. Vidar Sagmyr, Project Leader, Byggebransjens uropatrulje
    63. Tom Stancliffe, Co-Founder, TRIBE Freedom Foundation
    64. Caroline Downey, Executive Director, Women Working Worldwide
    65. Anne Basham, Chair, Taskforce on Human Trafficking for the Parliamentary Intelligence Security Forum
    66. Jeremy Vallerand, CEO & President, Rescue:Freedom International
    67. Sneh Aurora, London Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
    68. Lucy Brill, Director, Homeworkers Worldwide
    69. Christi Wigle, CEO and Co-Founder, United Against Slavery
    70. Adam Whittington, CEO and Founder, Project Rescue Children
    71. Shannon von Scheele, Executive Director, Netzwerk gegen Menschenhandel

 

See our Resources and Links relevant to the Ukraine crisis and preventing human trafficking of vulnerable people: hopeforjustice.org/resources-and-statistics/resources-ukraine-crisis/

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