Ukraine Leads in Number of Human Trafficking Victims in Eastern Europe
Monday, February 19, 2007

KIEV, Ukraine: More Ukrainian men, women and children have been trafficked abroad and forced into indentured labor or prostitution than in any other Eastern European country since the Soviet collapse, an international migration group said in a report Monday.

Roughly 117,000 Ukrainians have been forced into exploitative situations in Europe, the Middle East and Russia since 1991, the International Organization for Migration said.

Ukrainian officials say low salaries and unemployment force thousands to seek employment abroad, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation by criminals who often seize their passports and refuse to return them.

The organization said the full scale of trafficking through, from and within Eastern Europe is difficult to determine since most victims are unwilling, scared or unable to contact authorities.

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