The majority of people leaving Ukraine towards the European Union are women and children. Travelling under difficult circumstances, there is a danger of people going missing or being separated while on the road. In this article, you will find practical advice how to stay safe from human traffickers, if you are fleeing the war in Ukraine.
The majority of people leaving Ukraine towards the European Union are women and children. Travelling under difficult circumstances, there is a danger of people going missing or being separated while on the road. This makes them vulnerable to capture and exploitation by human traffickers.
Instances of sexual violence have already been reported, labour exploitation is a high risk, and there have also been indications of potential exploitation by individuals offering transport or services to refugees.
Advice on how to stay safe
Identity and important documents
- Do not let go of your passport or ID. Take a photo of your identity documents in case of loss or theft and send a copy to friends/family.
- Never give your passport or ID to anyone other than state authorities.
- Memorise important phone numbers and credit card information, as well as social media logins and passwords.
- When travelling with children, help them memorise useful information, such as family names, numbers and addresses.
Stay alert while travelling
- Keep your phone with you at all times.
- Try to travel in groups of 2-3 adults (and children).
- Communicate your intended route to family/friends.
- Develop a code word with friends/family so you can let them know you are in danger, in case you cannot say so explicitly.
Do not trust people blindly
- Take a picture of the licence plate before you get into a car and send it to friends/family.
- When possible, share your location with relatives using online services.
- Ask to see an ID when you are offered an apartment or room, write down the name and address and send to friends/family.
- Do not accept support from someone who expects something in return.
- If you get to a place to stay and you do not feel safe, leave it.
- Be wary if someone promises you a lot of money quickly or a job which is too good to be true.
Do you suspect you are a victim of human trafficking?
The EU has a dedicated webpage with information on how each EU country tackles, prevents, and identifies trafficking in human beings. You can find there contact details of national authorities and relevant organisations that are able to help you.
The EU has a hotline for missing children. This service provides support to missing children and their families. You can ask for help and call the following numbers:
- Calling from the EU: 116000
- Calling from outside the EU: +31 (0)888009000
If you need further information, you can consult the website dedicated to the situation of missing children in the context of the war in Ukraine.