EU police identify traffickers targeting Ukrainian refugees

EU police identify traffickers targeting Ukrainian refugees

The EU's police agency Europol said on Thursday it had identified nine suspected human traffickers targeting Ukrainian refugees online, as fears mount that vulnerable people fleeing the war-torn country could be preyed upon.

Refugees stand in line in the cold as they wait to be transferred to a train station after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022. More than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the start

More than 90 investigators from 14 EU countries joined forces in a "day of action" led by the Netherlands on May 23.

They found nine potential victims and nearly 42 suspicious online platforms.

The investigators looked into posts offering refugees help with transport, accommodation and jobs -- some described as "photo shoots".

They monitored dating and recruitment sites, as well as platforms offering sexual services. 

Posts specifically targeted Ukrainian refugees. Europol said they were being lured in with "offers of a 'bright future' which tricked them into sexual exploitation".

In March, the police agency warned Ukrainian refugees were at risk of falling into human trafficking networks when they arrived in the EU, and urged host countries to be vigilant. 

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