I’m writing to update you on the results from Team 1’s initial “scouting” trip to the Poland/Ukraine border. The Unbound team spent 5 days assessing the need and connecting with the local and international partners we will be serving. I had the privilege to be there, and I am excited to share with you how your partnership with Unbound is unfolding in this Crisis.
While in Poland, we quickly found ourselves filling a need for leadership in the anti-trafficking space. We met with government leaders, NGOs, and aid workers who have a deep desire to stop human trafficking, but who needed both information and equipping to do so. Unbound’s work on the border in Mongolia over the past 7 years prepared us to share from our experience working closely with law enforcement to counter trafficking and smuggling and to empower women to stay safe from exploitation. It was exciting to see how God is using our work from the other side of the world to serve the needs on the border of Ukraine.
In addition to providing a strategic outlook for how these for-profit, non-profit, and government partners can work together, the team also provided practical equipping. We met with the office directors of a women’s center in Poland, and because of our training, they are now looking to expand their services to include care for survivors of human trafficking. Follow up teams will continue to train aid workers in both Poland and Romania.
Many have asked, “What does human trafficking look like during a migration crisis?” As you may know, traffickers often gain access to victims by exploiting their vulnerabilities. This crisis is unique from others in that the Ukrainian migrants are primarily women and children. To better understand the needs, we traced their journey. We walked along the Polish border and saw where lines of buses come to drive migrants to the nearest train station. At this train station, chaos abounds. Women and children who have left everything behind and have not slept in days are faced with dozens of options and little time to make an informed decision about where they will travel to next or sleep that night. Many selfless Polish people have offered to open their homes or give Ukrainian refugees transportation. Unfortunately, bad actors have taken up the guise of hosts. They falsely offer these services, then once the women are in their car, they take them to unsafe situations. Through questioning several drivers, a teammate and I intercepted and diverted two likely traffickers in the span of 30 minutes! We know we can train many aid workers with the same skills and deter other opportunistic traffickers.
While the tragedy is immense and the sickening exploitation abounds, local agencies are well positioned to counter traffickers, and they are asking for Unbound’s leadership to help them do so. This week alone, Unbound has received multiple requests of equipping for law enforcement and aid workers across Poland. Another Unbound next team leaves this Friday and will be on the ground providing training for these partners, in coordination with groups such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Freedom Network (EFN).
In addition to this strategic leadership, Unbound is meeting practical needs by distributing diapers, toiletries, and awareness cards that give Ukrainian women practical handrails to stay safe from trafficking. Our teams walked over to the Ukraine side of the border to put these items directly in the hands of the women who needed them.
Unbound has been on the ground serving during other migrant crises and our experience is enabling us to meet the gaps and ensure many agencies have training to recognize and deter trafficking situations and empower the people they serve to keep themselves safe.
Unified response is powerful, and I am so thankful Unbound’s years of work in anti-trafficking is meeting the need of the aid workers and agencies serving displaced Ukrainians. You are a part of this success. Your partnership will continue to make Unbound’s presence possible.
By giving to Unbound, you are supporting these critical efforts to counter human trafficking in Eastern Europe. We are grateful for your support.
If you’d like to give toward our Ukraine response, you can do so here.
With great hope,