Newly arrived Ukrainian refugee women in France are an “easy target” for prostitution networks as well as ill-intentioned shelter-seekers, a matter of great concern to the authorities and human rights stakeholders.
These facts began in early March, when the first batch of displaced Ukrainians arrived in France, as a man standing in front of a reception center newly opened by the non-governmental organization “France Terre d’Asylum” in northern Paris raised great concern, after he was shown Two Ukrainian refugees to “work” for him.
“The man was luring Ukrainian women into the queue! The police have tightened their control since that incident,” said the association’s general manager, Delphine Royo.
It was also recorded that there was a man who wanted to host refugee women claiming that he represented an unknown association, in addition to the return of a number of refugee women to the association’s center “unsure” after spending their first nights in one of the “solidarity hosting centers”, which are supposed to be charitable organizations that are largely relied upon. to receive refugees in France.
All parties supervising the Ukrainian displacement for weeks have paid great attention to the risks faced by Ukrainian women, who together with their children represent 90% of Ukrainian refugees.
Europol said at the end of March that these women refugees are vulnerable to “attracting individual aggressors and opportunists posing as volunteers and criminal networks specializing in human trafficking”.
Refugees from Ukraine on a train to Budapest, Hungary
“Blonde with blue eyes”
These risks increase at the first stop that the refugees arrive at, such as the Polish or Romanian borders, but they continue until they reach France, where “no cases of trafficking have been proven” at this stage, asserts Elizabeth Moron-Bro, Secretary-General of the “Mibrov” ministerial mission in charge of combating Trafficking in Human Beings.
On the other hand, she says, “On the other hand, social service workers register doubts and alerts, which are the subjects of reports, so we are in the prevention stage.” “Prostitution.
Moron-Pro sees Ukrainian women as “easy prey”, especially since the trafficking networks in Eastern Europe are already active.
She asserts that what worries the French authorities in particular is “the dangers of trafficking arising from individuals who host women and exploit their vulnerability, which represents the greatest danger as a result of this crisis.”
Some of the hosting offers raise strong resentment among the associations. An employee responsible for scrutinizing thousands of offers in one of the associations, who refused to reveal her name, said that some offers “indicate, for example, that the host party receives only a Ukrainian young woman without children, while other offers explicitly indicate that they are directed at a blonde woman with blue eyes, for example.”
And the “France Terre d’Azille” association has begun implementing control measures, asking the host, for example, to inspect its criminal record, or to visit the hosting places and make sure that a “social follow-up” is carried out there.
Delphine Royo says, “We make it clear to them that it is not related to hosting in exchange for the provision of certain services. Because trafficking is not limited to sexual purposes, but can happen to women with the aim of getting them to do housework or take care of children all day.”
Céline Schmidt, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in France, stresses that refugee women should never “give their identification papers” and “beware of unbelievably tempting offers”, calling for “tightening” of control mechanisms with a view to “scrutiny”. All offers bear good intentions.
The Ukrainian community is also mobilizing to support mostly teenage Ukrainian women. “We accompany them to inspect the apartment and talk to those responsible for receiving them, and we try to reduce the risks,” said Nadia Mihal, president of the Association of Ukrainian Women in France. “We focus on families or women, and if the person concerned is a refugee, we do not provide assistance.”
Royo explains that all these efforts are unable to solve the whole situation because uncovering problems behind closed doors is a difficult process.