A Christian social policy group is urging ministers to “raise the alarm” about the trafficking of Ukrainian refugees amid fears of exploitation.
A year on from the start of the invasion, CARE campaigners are issuing fresh warnings about the heightened threat level presented by the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
They are pleading with government, begging ministers not to forget the refugees that may have slipped through the net.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme allowed Ukrainian nationals to seek refuge in the UK so long as they had a sponsor living in the country.
Despite council checks during the selection process, CARE is concerned that some homes were not the welcome solace that the refugees had been hoping for.
Instead, “concerning loopholes” meant some Ukrainians found themselves victims of exploitation.
In April last year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned the UK government of the urgent need for better safeguarding as 161,000 refugees made their way to British soil.
They called for “robust” background checks and better training for sponsors looking to welcome Ukrainians into their homes.
Commenting on the UN report Rebecca Stevenson, a trafficking policy expert at CARE, said:
“A year has now elapsed since Russia invaded Ukraine but the threat to Ukrainians leaving the country remains high. Traffickers are operating on the borders of the country to intercept and exploit vulnerable women and children.
“It is crucial that UK Ministers continue to raise the alarm about this issue, and work with European agencies to confront it. Ministers must also demonstrate that they are providing ongoing care for Ukrainians who have entered the UK.
“Thousands of Ukrainian nationals came here under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and were placed in various contexts. What checks are local governments and agencies carrying out to ensure these people aren’t falling off the radar and into modern slavery?
She concluded: “We call on the UK Government, local authorities, and other relevant agencies to provide reassurance about refugee welfare. It would be an awful failing if any person who has come to our shores for sanctuary should be let down.”
Premier Christian News has reached out to the Department for Levelling for comment.