Woman in crisis crying hunched over Woman in crisis crying hunched over

Ukrainian Refugees are at Risk of Human Trafficking, finds iPaper Investigation

The iPaper reports a threefold increase of Ukrainian refugees reported as suspected victims of Modern Slavery offences. Statistics from the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) show 34 Ukrainian nationals were reported in 2022, compared to only nine in 2021.

The article follows a casestudy of a Ukrainian woman brought to the UK's Homes for Ukraine scheme, in which UK citizens sponsor refugees from the conflict. The Government scheme has drawn criticism due to concerns about safeguarding measures, and the potential for it to be misused as a pathway for trafficking and abuse.

"Galyna (not her real name) arrived in the UK in May 2022 on the Homes for Ukraine scheme – the visa pathway for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict – after a British man she had been chatting to on a dating website agreed to be her sponsor.

On arrival, her sponsor used the scheme to try and exploit her. Despite having told her he was separated from his wife, the sponsor was in fact still married and boasted of exploiting other women.

Galyna, in her thirties, then endured a “frightening and stressful few weeks”.

She described being “hungry, confused and shocked by his behaviour”, as the man who had posed as a potential boyfriend moved her between B&Bs, his properties and hotels, and forced her to work for him. All the time, he pressured her for sex.

When Galyna resisted his demands, he threw her out, having “washed his hands” of her. With no sponsor and no home, she was identified as homeless and put in touch with the anti-trafficking charity Hope For Justice, who recognised her as a potential victim of modern slavery."

Read the full article at the iPaper's website here. Special thanks to our charity partners, Hope For Justice, mentioned in this report as first responders, who have provided invaluable support to Galyna and other victims.