Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine until now, millions of people forced to abandon their homes and familiar environment have been exposed, in addition to immediate and violent dangers, to other risks that a war can exacerbate: from cases of exploitation, to sexual abuse or human trafficking. Most of the refugees are women, children and elderly people, many of whom have a high degree of vulnerability – they do not know anyone outside the borders of Ukraine, they do not have savings to ensure their living expenses, do not speak English or Romanian, or they have problems with their documents.
Having almost 10 years of experience in the field of human trafficking prevention, eLiberare Association has developed during these months a program for the protection and prevention of situations of exploitation and human trafficking, to help as many refugees as possible to navigate their way through Romania, and even outside our borders, as safely as possible. The program, also funded by CARE with the support of the Sera Foundation, Care France and FONPC, is called Kompass and Ukrainians can find up-to-date materials and relevant information on official Kompass channels on platforms such as Telegram, Instagram, Youtube and Tiktok.
Like a compass, the program is focused on four main points of intervention: awareness – online and offline, useful information that answers questions about jobs, how to change your documents if you don’t have a passport, how to enroll your child in school, etc.; capacity building – support offered in navigating the bureaucratic processes and the various challenges encountered here, information sessions being organized in state or private transit centers, where participants also receive a Dignity kit – a backpack with some personal hygiene products, water, batteries, etc. .; creation of an Individual Safety Plan, each of these individualized plans taking into account the degree of vulnerability of the beneficiary and her needs; assistance – in ensuring a safe transit, including providing information and safe contacts and monitoring the route, with the help of partners abroad. “The risk of exploitation was not necessarily aware and certainly the existence of information helped to prevent it”, explained Tetiana Zavortonia, cultural mediator at the eLiberare Association.
Since November, an Information and Assistance Center in the Detection and Notification of Human Trafficking Cases has been opened in Brașov, within the CARE for Ukraine project, financed by CARE with the support of the Sera Foundation, Care France and FONPC. Regarding this, Mirabela Vasile, the Center’s Coordinator, mentions that “it offers new opportunities in collaboration at the local level with the institutions and organizations that have duties in the line of preventing and combating human trafficking, and we count on each other to reduce the phenomenon. By opening this Center in Brașov, we will try to provide the entire community with tools that will be fully implemented to ensure that no victim remains hidden from our eyes.”
eLiberare also organizes meetings with refugees, usually held bimonthly in Bucharest and Brașov. These Urban sittings, another part of the CARE for Ukraine project, provide a safe space where women in the community can connect, discuss their everyday problems and share their stories. “The bimonthly sessions of Urban Sittings helped to create an irreplaceable support and emotional support system in the community,” Tetiana tells us.
Thus, eLiberare helped a large number of refugees to be as prepared as possible in recognizing risky situations, to be attentive to the indicators of exploitation and to realize when they are in a point of recruitment and, above all, to know how to notify authorities if they have reasonable suspicions.
80% of them are still in touch with the eLiberation teams.
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