The escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 has disproportionately affected women and children as the fled the war. They have been through traumatic experiences and are in great fear for their families. Since the beginning of the war, the criminal entities capitalize on the desperate situation of the refugee women and children for profit. Human traffickers try to trap and mislead women and children during their escape or in the arrival states within the European Union with dubious offers. Girls and women with disabilities are also targets. Therefore, MARTA Centre immediately joined the NGO coordinating group meeting twice a week online in Latvia discussing policies development to assist refugee women and children including actions to be done by NGOs and by government in close cooperation. As a result, we prepared information and developed services suitable for refugee women and children. This included measures to prevent trafficking and profiting off of the vulnerable situation of women on the regional and national levels guaranteeing social safety measures for all refugees from Ukraine, and improving access to housing, education, employment, health care, social assistance, safe transportation within Latvia and through Latvia to join with their families etc.
MARTA Centre also initiated as well as participated in roundtables and meetings to raise awareness about the situation of women and children in Ukraine on different levels of governance – national, European, and international and focused on joint efforts to end demand/ punish sex buyers.
We learned of recruitment attempts at railroad stations, bus stations and distribution points, so MARTA immediately developed informative materials in Ukrainian about trafficking in human beings and where to seek for help in case of emergency. These materials were distributed at the points where refugees are gathering, as well as in the toilets of Circle K gas stations on the borders.
MARTA prepared an online lecture, recorded for distribution about how to detect victims of trafficking and refer them for assistance. On October 7th another training will take place for 30 NGOs that provide assistance for refugees from Ukraine on the risks of trafficking, identification of victims, and algorithms of action in cases of detected victims.
MARTA consulted and helped to develop policies for the key refugee assistance organization in Latvia to their staff or volunteers prevent sexual exploitation within their organization.
MARTA organized five regional discussions with female deputy candidates from different parties and voters raising crucial issues on prevention violence against women and human trafficking before the parliamentary election on 1st October.
Full report here: MARTAs activities report 2022-2023
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