The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports that more than 1.5 million kids have fled from Ukraine due to the war with Russia and are now refugees who could become subject to human trafficking.
"The war in Ukraine is leading to massive displacement and refugee flows — conditions that could lead to a significant spike in human trafficking and an acute child protection crisis," UNICEF's Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, said in a statement Saturday.
They also warned that “Traffickers often seek to exploit the chaos of largescale population movements.”
The UN reported that over 3 million people had fled Ukraine between February 24th and March 17th of this year, a span of 20 days. While 500 unaccompanied children were identified, UNICEF predicted the actual amount to be much higher.
UNICEF made a call to action for the governments of neighboring countries to Ukraine to strengthen screenings, improve communication between border control and law enforcement, and begin family tracing procedures.
"Children fleeing the war in Ukraine need to be screened for their vulnerability as they cross into a neighboring country," Khan said. "Every effort should be made to strengthen screening processes at refugee border crossings."