Ukraine: Thousands Of Vulnerable Children Unaccounted For

Ukraine: Thousands Of Vulnerable Children Unaccounted For




Traffickers are also targeting parentless children on the Ukraine-Poland border, group evacuating orphanages in the war zone. A team of US military veterans is helping to organise safe passage for the estimated 200,000 children in Ukraine's orphanages and foster homes. But they say thousands are unaccounted for and fearsome


may already have fallen prey to people traffickers. Kyiv says it is tightening procedures for vulnerable children. Earlier Recovery, a team of former US military veterans who are assisting vulnerable people fleeing the crisis, is working with the Ukrainian authorities to establish a system that will also make it easier to keep tabs on the



country's parentless children. The government doesn't really have the capacity to deal with the problem, says Jeremy Locke, the team's chief of operations. The team is working with Salam, a charity which helps refugees. It told the media  that children dropped at the Ukraine-Poland border by well-meaning organisations are being



targeted. They're very easy prey - they're looking for assistance, says Martin Kvernbekk, of the charity. So if you're an adult with some food or refuge, they will come with you. They don't know any better. He has heard about children going missing from a number of different sources, and reports of people smugglers



wearing reflective vests and pretending to belong to organisations helping the relief effort. The gangs are very advanced - it's big, well-financed networks that do this for a living. They're good at this in peace time, he says. Now it's a war, it's chaos, and they're exploiting the fact there is disorder to be able to snatch more kids and



women. Mr Kvernbekk also points out that although most men aged 18-60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine because they have to fight, any man who has three or more children with him can pass through. But no proper vetting is taking place at the country's borders. There is no way to check if that man is actually the parent of the



kids, he says.In a speech earlier this week, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, voiced concerns. We also have some reports of criminals taking orphans from orphanages in Ukraine, crossing the border pretending that they are relatives to the child and then using them for trafficking purposes,



she said. An absence of vetting procedures for those who volunteer to help or house refugees once they have crossed the border only compounds the problem. Everybody knows it's going on, but it's difficult to say the extent because of the chaos here. The authorities are trying to track what's happened to all of the children



[but] there is no paper trail, Mr Kvernbekk says. The Ukrainian authorities are now establishing a system with the help of NGOs to process displaced children and setting up safe areas in the east of the country.