UNICEF warned that the threat children face is "real and growing" because more than 1.5 million children have left Ukraine as refugees since the start of the conflict, while many others have been displaced by the violence in the country.
A recent analysis conducted by UNICEF and the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking (ICAT) revealed that 28 percent of identified victims of trafficking globally are children.
UNICEF child protection experts are worried that children could account for an even higher proportion of potential trafficking victims because children and women represent nearly all of the refugees who have fled Ukraine to date.
Afshan Khan, UNICEF's regional director for Europe and Central Asia, explained that the war in Ukraine is causing "massive displacement and refugee flows" and that these conditions could result in a big spike in human trafficking and "an acute child protection crisis."
Khan added that displaced children are at high risk of being separated from their families, exploited and trafficked. Governments in the region must step up and enforce strict measures to keep these children safe, warned Khan. (Related: Right Now with Ann Vandersteel: Several NGOs are involved in CHILD TRAFFICKING, reveals Carlos Arellano – Brighteon.TV.)
From Feb. 24 to March 17 of this year, more than 500 unaccompanied children were identified crossing from Ukraine into Romania.
However, experts are concerned that the actual number of separated children who have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries could be much higher since they are more vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation.
Khan said children fleeing the war in Ukraine must be screened for their vulnerability as they cross into a neighboring country and that all efforts must be made to improve screening processes at refugee border crossings.
UNICEF and UNHCR, together with governments and civil society organizations, are setting up "Blue Dots," a one-stop safe space for children and women that will help protect and support children and families who have fled Ukraine.
Blue Dot hubs provide key information to traveling families. The hubs also assist with the identification of unaccompanied and separated children, ensure their protection and provide a hub for essential services.
Blue Dots have already been established in countries hosting Ukrainian women and children. The hubs are also set to be scaled up in the coming days.
UNICEF is calling for the governments of neighboring countries and other countries of destination to improve child protection screenings at border crossings, especially those with Ukraine, to better identify at-risk children.
The organization has also implored governments to strengthen "cross-border collaboration and knowledge exchange between and among border control, law enforcement and child protection authorities and to quickly identify separated children, implement family tracing and reunification procedures for children deprived of parental care."
The organization said additional screening for protection risks must be enforced in shelters, large urban train stations and other locations where refugees are gathering or passing through. National and international law enforcement must also make changes to effectively monitor the movement of women and children, and actively address the risks these vulnerable groups face.
Go to Trafficking.news for more news about child trafficking in Ukraine and the rest of the world.
Watch the video below to learn about human trafficking in other areas like Nigeria.
This video is from the Tommy's Podcast channel on Brighteon.com.