Crisis in Ukraine increases risk of human trafficking, says local non-profit

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — A Colorado Springs nonprofit is offering support to Ukraine as the possibility of human trafficking escalates.

Exodus Road, a Colorado Springs-based organization aimed at combating human trafficking, signed a letter along with 60 other organizations condemning the war.

“You have a lot of women and children fleeing to the borders and they’ve left everything behind. They’re desperate, they’re scared and human traffickers prey on situations like this,” he said. said Will Leitch, executive director of philanthropy for Exodus Route.

Leitch says the stories from Ukraine are heartbreaking.

“We watch the news and see a lot of stories where people have had close calls or where people have seen someone use threats after you know they found transportation somewhere and tried to They are told they owe them money, which they weren’t told initially, and then they were threatened, so there are a lot of stories of traffickers operating especially at the borders right now,” Leitch said.

If they manage to get to another country, they should be careful when looking for a job.

“So someone might offer them a job, and it’s not just face-to-face, there are websites that offer these refugees travel to a country, a job and a place to stay. They respond to something they saw online that looks very professional and looks legit until they get tricked somewhere,” Leitch said.

More than 4 million people are currently leaving Ukraine and the group says refugees are becoming extremely vulnerable to trafficking. The refugee crisis has now reached a level not seen in Europe since the Second World War.

According to the UN refugee agency, more than 90% of people fleeing the country are women and children. Raouf Mazou, deputy commissioner of UNHCR, said this indicates an “increased risk of gender-based violence and other forms of exploitation and abuse, including trafficking”.

For more information on Exodus Road, click here.

Christi C. Elwood