Belgium sets up central hotline for Ukrainian refugees facing abuse

Following several reports of Ukrainian refugees abuse, resulting in the Federal Government setting up a contact point via a new central hotline for the victims.

To offer help, it aims to break up any organised crime groups behind human trafficking and abuse, as per the reports.

The experts warned that the police officials, emergency services as well as the public Prosecutors’ office were not sufficiently on alert for abuse when Ukrainian refugees began to arrive en masse.

Various cases of abuse have already occurred.

Moreover, in one case in Antwerp, three Ukrainian women were working illegally, cutting vegetables for just €7 an hour.

In the other case, a Flemish man mentioned that he would provide shelter to a Ukrainian woman in exchange for sex.

Abuses are not limited to Belgium, either. In the Netherlands, the government has reported increased demand for Ukrainian women on pornography sites for some time.

Along with this, when they reached the stations, women and children in neighbouring nations often found themselves surrounded by pushy men, some of whom were recruiters for prostitution networks.

Even pre-date to the Ukraine crisis, the Global Slavery Index noted the number of people who were victims of human trafficking in Belgium at 23,000, but hardly 1,200 victims were actually reported every year.

In addition, one contributing factor is the fragmentation between the three large organisations for victims of human trafficking: Payoke, Pagasa, and Surya.

Meanwhile, which is why the Federal Government is now placing up a central hotline, which will be open 24 hours a day, both via phone & online, intending to make it more comfortable for victims as well as emergency services to find their way to information and support.

Furthermore, the Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenbourne mentioned in the statement, “We have known for some time that this is required, but Ukraine has accelerated this.”

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