After completing her fact-finding visit to the Slovak Republic (2-4 May 2022) and Czech Republic, (4-6 May 2022), the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), Leyla Kayacik, commended the efforts made by both countries in hosting a large number of people fleeing Ukraine, mostly women and children. At the same time, within her mandate, she proposes targeted support of the Council of Europe in close co-operation with its international partners, including on the ground, in the light of the extraordinary challenges related to the protection of these people in a vulnerable situation.
The risk of trafficking in human beings of women and children had been particularly underlined by the Council of Europe Network on Focal Points on Migration at their extraordinary meeting on 9 March 2022, BY the Commissioner for Human Rights and by the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA). Her delegation therefore included a member of GRETA for thematic expertise.
“I was deeply moved by the stories I heard of women and children, who had to flee their homes overnight and arrived after days of travelling in difficult circumstances. I also heard their gratitude to the countries that have taken them in” said the SRSG.
The support will entail specific expertise to the relevant authorities and professionals to ensure the human rights needs of people fleeing Ukraine. This will be based on concrete actions offered in the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025) and the standards of the Council of Europe, notably on the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (see guidance note), the Convention on the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, as well as other standards such as on violence against women, and on guardianship for unaccompanied children. The Council of Europe also assessed measures taken by states to protect children on the move from sexual abuse and exploitation based on the Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as “the Lanzarote Convention”.
The Special Representative will also make a more extensive use of the Network’s Focal Points to enable 45 relevant ministries represented to share their best practices during this crisis.
In the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic, the SRSG met with representatives of the relevant governmental authorities, local authorities, Offices of the Public Defender and civil society who are making enormous efforts and showing a remarkable wave of solidarity towards people fleeing Ukraine. She praised the efficient organisation in centers put in place to provide support and information to people fleeing Ukraine . She also met with representatives of UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM.
The reports of the fact-finding visits are forthcoming.
 In the Slovak Republic, the SRSG met with State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Mr. Vendelín Leitner, State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family Ms. Soňa Gaborčáková, Director General of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport Mr. Kálmán Petőczto, Director General for International Organisations and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Mr. Juraj Podhorsky, with Deputy Major of the Bratislava City Ms. Lenka Antalova and Major of Lamac District Mr. Lukas Banacky.
 In the Czech Republic, the SRSG met with Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Ms Zuzana Freitas Lopesová; First Deputy Minister of Interior Mr Jiří Nováček; State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports Mr Jindřich Fryč; Director of Human Rights and Transition Policy Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr David Červenka and Special Envoy for Migration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr Ivo Šilhavý, with th eMember of the Prague City Council responsible for social affairs Ms Milena Johnová
 Support and Information Centre for Ukrainians in Bratislava City and Bratislava Train Station Information Point, Prague Regional Centre for Help and Assistance to Ukraine and Prague train station information point.