© Serhii Hudak via AFP/Europress
The war in Ukraine ignited massive population movement and internal displacement. About 4.2 million people left to seek safety abroad, and 7.2 million are internally displaced in the country. Approximately 85% of the refugees are women and children, traveling without the men in the family who are drafted or stay at home. These transfers are not without danger. When their reserves run thin, usually after a couple of weeks, people start to look for employment in their new location to sustain themselves and their families. As it sometimes happens, they might be tempted to accept work without contract, or their documents are taken away, and they may wind up exploited or in extreme cases as victims of forced labour or child labour.
In late March 2022, the Government of Ukraine approached the ILO with a request to come up with a pragmatic plan to prevent the exploitation and trafficking of people on the move. In this emergency situation, the ILO together with its constituents swung into action. Together with the Railways Trade Unions and the Ukrainian Railways, it developed key messages warning passengers about the risks of human trafficking and forced labour. Since the end of March, these messages and a video are screened in all inter-city trains within Ukraine. The information is shown 6-7 times per journey cost free thanks to the Ukrainian Railways. The Railways Trade Unions printed posters with the same messages. These posters are displayed at the entrance of the train carriages. In addition, further updates are planned for the web portal of the Construction Workers Trade Union of Ukraine to fine-tune its content related to human trafficking and the risks of exploitation.In late March 2022, the Government of Ukraine approached the ILO with a request to come up with a pragmatic plan to prevent the exploitation and trafficking of people on the move.
Information can go a long way, especially for people in vulnerable situations. The messages explain the imminent dangers and provide hotline numbers both in Ukraine and in the EU countries in case they need help. Furthermore, employees of the State Labour Inspectorate set up camp in transport hubs and provide counselling to travellers in order to prevent situations that can put them to risk.