The European Freedom Network (EFN), part of WEA’s World Freedom Network, has been working tirelessly to mitigate human trafficking at the borders since the beginning of the Ukraine Crisis. By day 3 of the crisis, EFN’s partners had brochures explaining to refugees how to stay safe from human traffickers at the borders of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.
“As soon as the war began, and with so many people running to the borders to help, our team knew that traffickers would be looking to take advantage of vulnerable people. It’s terrible to think that in such a terrible time that people would take advantage of others, but it does happen, and happens more than we like to think. We’ve heard many a story of a trafficker offering someone a ride and then they are never to be seen again,“ said Leanne Rhodes, Executive Director of EFN.
EFN worked quickly to equip churches responding at the border with simple, easy to follow, safety tips for transporting, hosting and caring for refugees. Rhodes reports, “At the start of the crisis, it was mayhem at the borders. Desperate people were just getting into anyone’s car and we knew that would create an opportunity for traffickers. Our key messaging to churches helped churches to run their operations in a way that would make it hard for traffickers to operate. We encouraged churches transporting people to always show their ID and car registration and even encourage Ukrainians to take photos of the IDs before getting into the vehicle. We knew traffickers wouldn’t want to do this as it created a trail of evidence. It was a way to influence the safety of borders before they became more regulated.
Next EFN turned its attention to the immense need to deal with both immediate and longer term trauma. EFN has produced a series of trauma webinars in a number of languages that help churches responding to the crisis to work with the Ukrainian people in a trauma informed way. Webinars focus of psychological first aid, secondary trauma and human trafficking. Future webinars will focus on conflict related sexual violence.
“I have just spent the last month travelling around the border countries, speaking with our partners and churches responding to the crisis. The church is shining brightly as a beacon of hope and is truly loving its neighbour. At EFN, we want to continue to support refugees, displaced people and churches,” reports Rhodes.
Visit EFN’s website to see more detailed impact reports of how EFN has responded to the Ukraine Crisis.