Back Trafficking of Ukrainian children including for sexual and labour exploitation: risks in spotlight

Trafficking of Ukrainian children including for sexual and labour exploitation: risks in spotlight

Millions of Ukrainian children have fled their homeland as a result of Russia’s war of aggression, with many of them being hosted in Council of Europe member states. Armed conflicts create particular vulnerabilities for children leading to increased risks of abuse at many levels, including trafficking in human beings. In this context, new challenges in preventing and combating human trafficking affecting children have emerged.

Against this background, the Council of Europe Consultation Group on the Children of Ukraine (CGU), a multilateral operational co-operation platform set up as a direct follow-up to the Reykjavik Summit, dedicated part of its 3rd plenary (1-2 July) to a special hearing on “Understanding the risks of human trafficking, including for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation of children of Ukraine”. The event was in an enlarged format, bringing together a wider audience of relevant partners.

Benoît van Keirsbilck, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and of the CGU noted "Crisis and emergency situations, including armed conflicts, put children at greater risk of being separated from their parents and protective environment, and of being displaced without the control or supervision by the authorities. These children are easy prey for child traffickers, illegal adopters, and exploitation in general, including sexual exploitation. All our senses must be on the alert to prevent these risks and protect the children who are victims, offering them psychological, legal and social support."

Petya Nestorova, Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) presented GRETA’s work on preventing and combating human trafficking, focusing on risks related to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. She underlined “Unaccompanied and separated children, including children evacuated from residential care facilities, are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. GRETA has recommended providing child-friendly materials to inform children about the risks of trafficking, including recruitment and exploitation online, and to help them develop skills in identifying and avoiding risks, learning how to protect themselves, where to get support and report abuse.”

The hearing underscored the need to enhance awareness about the risks of human trafficking of the children of Ukraine in Council of Europe member states.

council of europe Strasbourg 2 July 2024
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