Five weeks into Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, imagine for a moment what it’s like to live there now.
Bombs, bloodshed, trauma. No school for your children, no healthcare for your parents, no safe roof over your head in many parts of the country.
Would you try to run? Ten million Ukrainians have, according to the United Nations.
Most seek refuge in other areas of Ukraine, believed to be safer. But more than three and a half million people have fled over the border.
They are mainly women and children, as men under the age of 60 are obliged by the Ukrainian government to stay put and fight.
Displaced and disoriented, often with no idea where to go next, refugees are forced to put their trust in strangers.
The chaos of war is now behind them, but the truth is, they’re not entirely safe outside Ukraine either.
“For predators and human traffickers, the war in Ukraine is not a tragedy,” UN Secretary General António Guterres warned on Twitter. “It’s an opportunity – and women and children are the targets.”
Trafficking rings are notoriously active in Ukraine and neighbouring countries in peace time. The fog of war is perfect cover to increase business.
Karolina Wierzbińska, a coordinator at Homo Faber, a human rights organisation based in Lublin, told me children were a huge concern.
Many youngsters were travelling out of Ukraine unaccompanied, she said. Patchy registration processes in Poland and other border regions – especially at the start of the war – meant children disappeared, their current whereabouts unknown.
My colleagues and I headed down to the Polish-Ukrainian border to see for ourselves.
At a train station, well known for refugee arrivals, we found a hive of activity. Dazed-looking women and crying children were all around.Refugees, Ukraine
Category: Around the World