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Europe

Ukraine Refugee Crisis Update – Larysa’s Story

Since the start of the conflict, IJM has been taking proactive efforts to protect refugees from exploitation and ensure safe journeys. IJM has identified and supported vulnerable women and children, partnered with agencies and shelters to detect risks and signs of trafficking and worked with NGOs and authorities to provide essential support, facilitate communication, and organise awareness campaigns.

At present, IJM Romania continues to implement protection strategies and raise awareness to prevent trafficking at the borders and in larger urban areas. Data sheets with information on how to be safe in Romania, including contact numbers for Romanian authorities, the border control and emergency services, are now also being shared and distributed in Ukraine via trusted partners. Having this information before crossing the border helps prevent potential exploitation – people have more time to digest the information, ensure they have contact details and know the procedures before entering Romania.

IJM staff and partners are seeing first-hand the importance of raising awareness, offering protection solutions about the risk of trafficking and keeping in touch with refugees throughout their journeys. A staff member at the border shared this recent story with us:

While trying to escape the conflict in Ukraine, Larysa* met a man who promised to keep her safe. This man’s real intentions soon became clear when he stole € 700 euros ($1000 AUD) from Larysa and left her at the Romanian border. She was then picked up and cared for by a local shelter, which helped her arrange a safe and vetted onward journey to Germany – her chosen destination. However, on the way to Nuremberg, Larysa was contacted by another man who she had met online while in Romania. He convinced Larysa to change buses in Hungary and take a bus to Berlin instead. His social media profile was suspicious and, fortunately, the shelter team remained in close contact with Larysa and became aware of this unexpected change of plan. The shelter supported Larysa and arranged for a trusted person to accompany her as they explained why this could have been an exploitative situation. They then took her to the train station so she could safely continue her journey to Nuremberg. Now, Larysa is in a safe place and staff have since continued to work with her to help her understand the risk of trafficking.

“This lady was at risk of being trafficked. she was highly vulnerable and the man she trusted showed all kinds of suspicious behaviour. Thankfully, our partners managed to keep her safe. This is an example of why it’s so important to stay in touch with people as they journey to places of safety.”

IJM Staff Member

In response to the evolving crisis and needs of refugees, IJM is also in the process of establishing a department within a partner organisation with significant experience in provision, shelter and accommodation for refugees in multiple sites across Romania. These partnership agreements and an extended protection presence will focus on preventing trafficking and providing long-term aftercare support to survivors.


Prevent trafficking and send protection now or become a Freedom Partner today, so we can show up every day for the most vulnerable.

Disclaimer: images used are not representative of Larysa*

*Pseudonyms used

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