In 2022, IJM Romania launched the Ukraine Crisis Response Program to address the risks in human trafficking faced by Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war and to service and assist the refugees during their time spent in Romania.
As of Feb. 14 2023, about 18.6 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their country due to the Russian invasion. This has led to significant refugee flows into Romania, estimated at more than 2.8 million Ukrainians crossing the border, with no end to the war in sight. These are predominantly women and children, who are particularly vulnerable to labor and sex trafficking.
Refugee trafficking in persons (TIP) cases are difficult to detect and deter, and new arrivals frequently lack support mechanisms, knowledge of local language, and understanding of criminal justice system structures to report cases and access support services.
The Government of Romania offers Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to refugees, which would help reduce their trafficking vulnerability. Yet, many refugees are not aware of their rights under TPS and have a difficult time navigating the registration process for this support mechanism. This large-scale population movement further increases the risks of TIP for vulnerable Romanians as well as refugees, both Ukrainians and third-country nationals.
As of March 2023 per UNHCR official data in Romania there are:
- 109,559 individual refugees from Ukraine recorded in Romania
- 123,761 refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes
- 2,153,896 border crossings from Ukraine since Feb. 24 2022
IJM's Ukrainian Refugee Crisis Response
IJM's Ukrainian Refugee Crisis Response works to protect refugees from human trafficking by building capacity of front-line service providers working with refugees and generating case referrals through IJM’s network. Specifically, this looks like:
- Collecting data through social media to track and analyze TIP trends and identify potential cases of TIP.
- Increasing the capacity of front-line service providers to identify and protect against TIP.
- Managing social media campaigns targeting Ukrainian refugees with resources and knowledge about trafficking and reporting.
In 2023, IJM is focusing on equipping front-line responders to be aware of the signs of human trafficking and the correct protocol for referring cases of human trafficking to the authorities. IJM is conducting at least seven trainings with NGOs, volunteers, and government stakeholders and attend several gatherings with refugees to discuss human trafficking. IJM is also launching a social media campaign targeting Ukrainian refugees to spread information about human trafficking risks and gather intelligence about potential trafficking cases.
About International Justice Mission:
International Justice Mission partners with local authorities in 29 program offices in 17 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children and police abuse of power. IJM’s mission is to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts. Learn more at: IJM.org.