IASC statement: Preventing human trafficking risks for Ukrainian refugees
UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, said:
“As the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine escalates the number of displaced people continues to grow. I am gravely concerned about the very real threat of human trafficking facing refugees – overwhelmingly women and children - at the Ukrainian borders and along their journey to destination countries, including the UK. We know that traffickers target vulnerable people when they are unable to meet their basic needs, and that recruitment tactics often include false offers of security and employment.
“The initial response to the refugee crisis from many neighbouring countries has been impressive, and it is encouraging to see consideration of trafficking risks at multiple levels. While the UK has not seen the immediate waves of arrivals that certain European countries have experienced, we are now preparing to welcome Ukrainian refugees via routes including the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
“The UK response is commendable with many individuals, organisations and businesses at national and local levels offering shelter, support and job opportunities to those who have been forcibly displaced. As part of that response, and longer term, it is vitally important that we put systematic measures in place to ensure that the risks of exploitation do not become a reality. I will be meeting with experts, government officials and service providers to share information and good practice.”
Notes to editors
- Part 4 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 created the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The Commissioner has a UK-wide remit to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences and the identification of victims.
- The Commissioner is given an annual budget with which to appoint staff and carry out her duties. She is accountable through her strategic plan and annual reports, which the Secretary of State lays before Parliament, setting out the extent to which objectives and priorities are achieved. Her Strategic Plan 2019 – 2021 was launched in October 2019 and her Annual Report 2020 – 2021 was launched in July 2021.
- Dame Sara Thornton was appointed as the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner by the Secretary of State following consultation with the Scottish Ministers and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. She took up post at the beginning of May 2019 and her appointment is for three years.