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Ukrainian Refugee Women are Fueling Human Trafficking in Europe

Sofia Bobok/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Rebecca Zisser/Insider
Sofia Bobok/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Rebecca Zisser/Insider

More than six months into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine, the region has become ripe for human trafficking. Of the estimated 12 million people who fled Ukraine when Russia invaded in February, 90% are women or children — the primary targets for trafficking.

“Out of all the violence against women and girls that exist around the world, the little that we actually know about is truly the tip of the iceberg,” Mendy Marsh, a humanitarian aid worker, told Insider.  

The number of people impacted by trafficking is suspected to be expanding rapidly throughout Europe, two humanitarian sources at Voluntary Organisations in Cooperation in Emergencies — also known as VOICE — told Insider.

“Trafficking — including trafficking for sexual exploitation — was an entrenched reality in the region before the war,” said Marsh, Co-Founder and Executive Director of VOICE told Insider, “so that reality gets exacerbated.” 

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