Ukrainian refugees are facing fears of an increase in sex trade activity after United Nations officials issued a warning for the dangers of trafficking rings in warfare.
The UN says that close to ten million Ukrainians have fled the country with women and children making up the bulk of the war-torn state which has been invaded by Russian forces.
UN Secretary General António Guterres warned that Ukrainian refugees may face danger outside of the country they had fled, with the peril of sex trafficking a possibility.
Guterres said: “For predators and human traffickers, the war in Ukraine is not a tragedy. It’s an opportunity – and women and children are the targets.”
Kyiv refugee Margherita Husmanov decided to stay at the border to help fellow refugees who could fall into the wrong hands, saying that she felt vulnerable and that’s “especially why I worry about their safety”.
“The women and children come here from a terrible war,” she added. “They don’t speak Polish or English. They don’t know what’s going on and they believe what anyone tells them.
“Anyone can turn up at this station. The first day I volunteered, we saw three men from Italy. They were looking for beautiful women to sell into the sex trade.
“I called the police and it turned out I was right. It wasn’t paranoia. It’s horrible.”
Another refugee, Elena Moskvitina, spoke of her chilling border experience after her and her children crossed the border into Romania where they were aggressively told a van filled with women would take them to Switzerland.
Concerns for youngsters travelling from Ukraine were detailed in a BBC report where one refugee spoke of men looking at her and her daughter “sleazily”, adding that it had terrified her child.
She told the men, who were insisting she travel with them, that she would meet them at the van but took her children and ran as soon as she could.