Human Trafficking & The Impact of the War in Ukraine

Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine on February 24th, an estimated 10 million people, including more than 1.5 million children have been forced to flee their homes. Countless individuals have been displaced by the violence, and the threat of human trafficking is at an all-time high. 

“Displaced children are extremely vulnerable to being separated from their families, exploited, and trafficked. They need governments in the region to step up and put measures in place to keep them safe.”

Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Ukraine has long been a country associated with human trafficking and exploitation, the 2018 Global Slavery Index estimates that approximately 286,000 people are enslaved within the country. However, the outbreak of war has brought a new sense of urgency to this ongoing crisis. With human trafficking generating an estimated £150 billion in illicit profits every year, the incentive for organised criminals to profit from the vulnerability of refugees is a very real driver of exploitation. 

This month in an open letter from the Anti-Human Trafficking community, the TRIBE Freedom Foundation has joined more than 60 of the world’s leading Anti-Trafficking organisations to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Human trafficking is a global issue that can be found within any country, and although there is no typical victim of modern slavery, research by the Rights Lab finds that modern slavery is taking place in 90% of recent wars and conflicts. This includes sexual exploitation and human trafficking – with refugees and other migrants, who are forcibly displaced, without physical security, and suffering from a loss of livelihood, being particularly vulnerable. By promising stability, security, and employment, traffickers exploit individuals who have left everything behind.  

According to reports by the UN, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the second world war, with experts suggesting that women and girls will be hit especially hard. An estimated 9 in 10 individuals fleeing the country are either women or children. All of whom are highly susceptible to trafficking. 

It is critical, now so more than ever to spread awareness surrounding the issues of modern slavery. To see the full letter produced by the Anti-Human Trafficking Community, click here and learn more via the sources below.


UN News | Global perspective Human stories

Russian Invasion in Ukraine Leads to Increased Risks of Human Trafficking – IOM | United Nations in Ukraine

How many refugees have fled Ukraine and where are they going?

Nottingham Rights Lab| Slavery and trafficking occurs in 90 per cent of recent wars and conflicts

The Other Victims of the War in Ukraine – Atlantic Council