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RENATE members providing assistance at the UKRANIAN border

 

Update from RENATE member, Sr. Gabriela Hasiura

“At present, the Polish community is really amazing with its hospitality by accepting war refugees into their own homes. A large number of refugees are also looked after by their friends and families who have been living and working here for many years, which greatly facilitates integration, as their relatives have already become rooted in Polish reality.

It is also a sign of hope that most of them want to work, which is something Polish entrepreneurs who have been suffering from a lack of people willing to work, are happy about.

 

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I have the impression that at the moment, both the government’s support in the form of financial assistance, free rail travel for Ukrainian citizens throughout Poland and the huge number of public collections, mostly satisfy the needs of refugees. We are aware, however, that in some time we will become tired of helping and perhaps then we will need help more.

At the moment, we are profiting from government and local government benefits as well as financial aid offered by UISG and fundraising in our religious congregations abroad. As an intermediary in helping refugees, we try to supervise and monitor that women and children are not abused, because the media also informed us about such, fortunately, few cases.

I think that the war in the neighbouring country makes a great impression on Poles, which is why the society is also reacting with great empathy.

Update from Sabine Kallauch at KAVOD ministries

 

Dear all!

Since I was in Poland, I always had to think about the situation on the Romanian/Ukrainian border and I was worried about how it would go there. Then a colleague of mine, who is Romanian went there and also took our mother/child flyers and the flyers against human trafficking. He came back deeply moved and was very shocked about the condition of the volunteers. Many were totally exhausted and close to burnout. The Romanians, especially the Christians usually have a lot of prejudices against psychology, but the openness towards this subject was very high due to the situation. A boy whom nobody could calm down because he had such a panic state could be calmed down with the exercise, how beautiful!

And now I come to the point: I have been invited to come and help. Besides the guests (that’s what we call the refugees) to whom I will present the mother/child exercise, I am supposed to do training about secondary trauma for the staff, if that is possible. Furthermore, I would like to help establish a security system against human traffickers. Our partner organization Associate Free is donating 3000 flyers with their emergency number.
I will be in Suceava, in the northeast of Romania and in Cernavti, which is 60km in Ukraine. There are a lot of internal refugees there.
I feel very privileged and very grateful to go there. We go on Good Friday and stay for two weeks. I will take a team with me. Andreas will be there for at least a week and Emanuela and other colleagues are also considering coming along.
In addition, I will offer a seminar for helpers in cooperation with the Evangelical Alliance on May 11.
I am grateful for financial and especially prayer support. I want to buy toys again and take some relief supplies.


In solidarity,
Sabine
Sabine Kallauch
Sozialpädagogin | Trauma-Fachberaterin | Traumapädagogin Lebens-und Sozialberaterin
Socialworker/ Trauma-Counselor

 

KAVOD
Ganzheitliche Hilfe für Betroffene von sexueller Ausbeutung
Holistic support for victims of sexual exploitation
t: 0043/676 8969 2202
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Feature image by Priscilla du Preez

Updates from RENATE partners in France, Contre La Traite des Êtres Humains

 

In its March newsletter, Contre La Traite des Êtres Humains has highlighted the importance of better collaboration between the different associations involved in combatting human trafficking.

From the moment of instances of trafficking first being reported and investigated by authorities, many different actors become involved from law enforcement, legal professionals, NGOs and other associations. The SAVE project based in Morocco points out the gaps in the network between the above actors which need to be addressed to ensure survivors are better supported during the judicial process, especially as their own willingness to testify against their exploiters is often crucial to the expoiters’ conviction.

On Ukraine.

 

Geneviève Colas, coordinator for Secours Catholique-Caritas France of the collective “Together against human trafficking”, has already witnessed attempts to exploit the needs of refugees from Ukraine, saying “In Poland, some women are offered accommodation in exchange for sexual favours.”

Another Caritas member based in Romania witnessed an aborted kidnapping, which was prevented thanks to timely intervention by the police. Nonetheless these stories raise enormous concern for the safety of many travelling to seek refuge from the conflict. Geneviève Colas also stressed the importance that the same protection must be afforded to foreign nationals fleeing Ukraine and not only Ukrainian citizens, particularly concerned for African students in Ukraine since the beginning of the war’s escalation.

A further update provides more practical outlines of the types of exploitation to be on the alert for and advice for those concerned or doubtful of the intentions of persons they come into contact with on their journey or after arriving in host countries.

A useful tract has been published in four languages which can be downloaded below:

In French

In Ukrainian

In English

In Russian

 

On the occasion of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union

 

A further feature reports recommendations made by the collective “Together Against Trafficking” for policy and future regulations which should be adopted nationally in France and also through more co-ordinated EU regulation.

To read the full articles drawn from in this feature, please visit http://contrelatraite.org/actualites

Save the date – upcoming webinar: RENATE in action with the refugees of Ukraine

 

On 20th April at 19:00 CET, RENATE will hear from its members at work in several of the countries bordering Ukraine, providing assistance in any way possible for the many refugees fleeing the war.

Further details and a zoom link will become available on this page ahead of the event and on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Chaos in shelters for Ukrainian refugees increases risk of trafficking

 

Article source: Global Sister’s Report

Sr. Imelda Poole has been fighting human trafficking for years and is now increasingly worried about the situation in Ukraine.

 

“There has been an explosion of child trafficking in the world in recent years because of increasing poverty,” she told GSR “And now, the risks are enormous in Ukraine because war situations make it easier for international and local gangs to find prey.”

Poole is a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters) and president of Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation (RENATE), a nongovernmental organization that combats human trafficking in 31 European countries.

Millions of Ukrainians have left their homes, fleeing bombings and destruction. After a month of fighting, about 3 million of them have crossed the borders, mostly into Poland. About as many have been displaced within their country, going west where the fighting has been less intense. Thousands are waiting in underground shelters, hoping for a ride to safety as soon as possible.

“The situation is dire in shelters. Food is scarce, Hygiene is very bad. Such chaos is welcomed by gangs of traffickers, who prey on the most vulnerable: isolated children or young people,” Poole said.

It did not take long for gangs, local as well as international, to mingle in the crowd and offer false promises of help. Traffickers know refugees are desperate to go to a safer place. They are quick to offer a ride over the border to people who are desperate to leave. This is where danger lies.

Soon after the war broke out, humanitarian aid agencies started to distribute leaflets to refugees gathered in shelters, to warn them about human trafficking. “We have printed and distributed leaflets written both in English and in Ukrainian, so humanitarian workers know what is written on them as well,” Poole said.

The paper tells refugees what to do before agreeing to a ride to the border with Poland or Romania, the two main countries where Ukrainians seek refuge, along with Hungary and Slovakia.

 

“The situation is dire in shelters. Food is scarce, Hygiene is very bad. Such chaos is welcomed by gangs of traffickers, who prey on the most vulnerable: isolated children or young people,”

 

“Never hand out your passport to someone who promises you a ride. Take a picture of the plate of the van you get on and tell someone that you are going in it and where you are going” are some of the tips printed on the leaflets.

If offered accommodations, make sure to tell someone you know where you are. “We try to give cellphones to the ones who do not have one, so they can stay in contact with their relatives,” Poole added.

She is coordinating efforts to help refugees, working closely with other helpers within Ukraine, priests and sisters with whom she is in contact. She is based in Tirana, Albania, where she has been fighting human trafficking for the past fifteen years.

These leaflets are like an “A to Z guide for refugees of how to protect themselves from transnational gangs.”

She also said anyone traveling should registered with the authorities when possible. “The police tell humanitarian agencies in Ukraine that they are very aware of the presence of international gangs of traffickers. They say they patrol the routes taken by refugees to try to prevent criminals from preying on vulnerable people.”

Aid workers also watch out for people acting in a suspicious manner and report them to the police.

Poole has a long experience in dealing with human trafficking.

“Drug trafficking doesn’t bring as much money as it used to. Arms trafficking is also not so lucrative anymore, so traffickers are now focusing on human trafficking,” she said.

“Children are bought online” she added, “they become sex slaves or forced to work for free.”

Even very young children are at risk: “Traffic starts with small children,” she said, though “anyone can become a victim of it, not only young boys and girls.”

“The world is demanding cheap labor, cheap sex. Traffickers know that wars give them opportunities. Their only aim is greed; they have absolutely no ethics. And criminals often get away with it,” she said.

Caritas Internationalis and other humanitarian groups present in Ukraine have joined forces to help refugees. “Right now, there is a very high risk that people might become a human slave,” Vladyslav Shelokov, Caritas Ukraine’s resource mobilization director, said in an interview with Vatican News.

The situation in Ukraine is chaotic, and UNICEF, the United Nations Children Fund, is also warning about people eager to help, saying that rules have to be followed to protect children.

“We cannot let people, even of goodwill, take children without any protocol. Children are exposed to sexual trafficking or to some forms of slavery, even to organ trafficking,” Philippe Cori, from the UNICEF bureau for Europe and Central Asia, said in an interview with the French magazine Elle.

Since the German border is only a six-hour drive (600 km) from Ukraine, some West Europeans have driven to the border to offer help. This may be generous but also dangerous.

“In Poland, a lot of associations unknown to the authorities say they can take children with them to a safer place. This cannot be done,” explained Alice Barbe, a spokeswoman from the Corridor Citoyen, an association created on the first day of the invasion of Ukraine to ensure safe passage to people who want to leave the country and go to France.

“There is real chaos in humanitarian refugee centers, with volunteers who are not under any control. They just wear a badge and a yellow vest and they are seen as volunteers. This is irresponsible,” Barbe said in the same story in Elle.

Poole also insists on the need for volunteers to be qualified. “People who help might not be aware of the trauma refugees suffer and of the impact of fleeing a war,” she said. “What is needed at this time is a listening ear for these refugees who have suffered so much.”

Her congregation, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is ready to take in some refugees, in close cooperation with police, social workers and psychologists to make sure they are properly cared for.

Author: Elisabeth Auvillain

Elisabeth Auvillain is a freelance journalist based in Paris.

 

Feature image: ‘Ukrainian civilians and soldiers take shelter under a bridge in Kyiv’ by Міністерство внутрішніх справ України, used under CC; cropped from original.

Upcoming online Panel Discussion: What Gets Measured, Gets Done: Measuring the Efficacy of Human Trafficking Policies & Programs

 

The NGO conglomerate Justice Coalition of Religious extends an open invitation to its upcoming panel discussion this Wednesday, to discuss how to monitor the efficacy of programmes, policies and initiatives to combat human trafficking.

The discussion will be live streamed on Wednesday 6th April from 11am until 12.30pm Eastern Time USA by the United Nation’s Web TV channel.

The Justic Coalition of Religious explains the need for this conversation as follows:

“Despite all efforts, human trafficking has continued to proliferate unfettered throughout the world and has been exacerbated during the pandemic.

Major focuses have been on aiding the victims after the crime is committed and developing programs to prevent abuse of the most vulnerable. While these are laudable efforts, they obviously have not stopped the crimes from occurring.

Please join us as we explore how the United Nations community can expand its policies and procedures to bankrupt the business of human trafficking by:

  • establishing global measurement standards, including for illicit profiteering and numbers of trafficking victims;
  • incorporating such estimates into the results framework of programmes and projects;
  • facilitating collaboration amongst multi-sectors engaged in policy making, implementation and monitoring of results.”