THE director of a charity in Cork that works with Eastern European migrants has expressed concern over suspected cases of human trafficking involving Ukrainian refugees.
Voyteck Bialek, director of Together-Razem, said through links with charities in Eastern Europe he has heard sinister reports of happenings on the Polish/Ukrainian border.
“One of the charities called La Strada International, who provide information and fight against human trafficking, they got reports from the Polish/Ukrainian border of some nasty things going on,” he said. “There are hundreds of thousands of people willing to help but there will always be predators too.”
Mr Bialek said women and children fleeing Ukraine are at heightened risk of human trafficking and exploitation.
“They are so vulnerable, they have no English, and they can be easily exploited. It’s very, very scary.”
Together-Razem has shared safety advice issued by La Strada International to those fleeing Ukraine.
The five safety rules advise people to keep in small groups and not get into private cars on their own; to ask any person offering help to show ID; to ask on what condition the assistance is being offered; to write down the phone numbers of the people helping, and, if in doubt, to contact the police or border guard.
Mr Bialek said he has come across suspicious posts on social media groups with offers of accommodation for Ukrainian women.
“I’m a member of several Ukrainian groups in Ireland. I’m seeing single men post in those groups to say ‘I’m offering accommodation’. It really scares me. I would advise all those admins to block those comments and to put the flow of accommodation offers through the Irish Red Cross.
“I understand that some people might have good intentions, but when I see a single man offering a safe house and trips around Ireland but saying ‘I’ll only take a woman’, it sounds dodgy,” he said.
To find out more about the work of Together-Razem or to make a donation to its fundraiser for Ukraine, visit www.together-razem.org.