Reports also show that 80 per cent of the refugees from Ukraine are women. Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

It has been almost 500 days since President Vladimir Putin issued a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the UNHCR revealed that nearly 8 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded in neighbouring countries across Europe.

Reports also show that 80 per cent of the refugees from Ukraine are women.

There are around 5.9 million people who have been internally displaced by the war in Ukraine. The UNHCR also recorded that there are approximately 17.6 million people in Ukraine who are in need of vital humanitarian assistance in 2023.

Between February 2022 and June 2023, there have been more than 37,986 deaths recorded in Ukraine. Since President Vladimir Putin ordered the Ukraine invasion, Grigory Karasin, a member of Russia's upper house of parliament, said that Russia has bought around 700,000 of Ukraine's children into Russia.

A huge number of children have been "adopted" by families in Russia and have therefore received a Russian passport and nationality.

Reports also show that older children, are being ushered into Russian learning camps and have been given military training.

On behalf of the UK Delegation to the OSCE, Justin Addison, declared: "Russia's unprovoked assault on Ukraine has left many Ukrainians vulnerable to human trafficking."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, predict that the trafficking of women and children from Ukraine is expected to increase in 2023.

Robert Biedron, the Chair of the Women's Rights Committee, recognised that Ukrainian women had been victims of human trafficking prior to the Russia-Ukraine War. He said: "Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian women have been victims of human trafficking. This was the case before the war, and the war has only made it worse."

Justin Addison also acknowledged that there is a "highly gendered and toxic demand for sexual services, as criminals prey on the vulnerability of the displaced".

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that Ukraine has been a source, route, and destination country in regard to human trafficking since the early 1990s.

The Internal Organization for Migration, estimate that more than 300,000 Ukrainians have been victims of human trafficking since the early 1990s.

Men, women, and children are trafficked for the purposes of forced labour, sexual exploitation, as well as begging and other forms of exploitation.

A study on internet search trends in 2023, found that views of pornographic videos that claimed to show refugees from Ukraine have increased dramatically.

The analysis showed that the 13 videos that claimed to depict Ukrainian refugees had been viewed more than 275,000 times in January 2023 alone.

Valiant Richey, also a UK Delegation to the OSCE representative, stated: "This analysis shows just how crucial it is to keep women and children fleeing the war safe. The high demand from men for sexual access to Ukrainian women and girls creates an enormous incentive for traffickers to recruit vulnerable people in order to meet that demand and profit from it."

Compared to the number of searches before the Russia-Ukraine War, the number of searches for the term "Ukrainian escorts" in the UK increased by 200 per cent.

Due to the current conflict in Ukraine, refugees are more at risk of human trafficking and modern-day slave labour.

Tatiana, a refugee from Ukraine, spoke to reporters about being financially exploited when she was offered a job as an undocumented cleaner in Poland.

Tatiana said: "Week after week, month after month, I was waiting for payment, but they paid me just a small part of what I was owed. In the end, it was all empty promises."

"The company think they can fool us because we are Ukrainians," Tatiana added.

Reports show that the destinations for the victims of human trafficking are Russia, Poland, and Turkey. However, there has also been evidence of trafficking within Ukraine.

The Internal Organisation for Migration estimates that before the invasion of Ukraine, an estimated 46,000 people from Ukraine were trafficked between the years 2019 and 2021.