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Norwegian police warn of exploitation of Ukrainian refugees

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Norwegian police warn of exploitation of Ukrainian refugees
Illustration photo of a woman using a phone and laptop. Norwegian police have seen an increase in tips offs about exploitation of Ukrainian refugees through online messages. Photo: Unsplash

Several police districts in Norway have said they are receiving an increasing number of tips about people trying to exploit vulnerable Ukrainian refugees, according to Norwegian TV2.

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Norwegian TV2 spoke to a Ukrainian woman living in Norway, who was trying to find somewhere for her mother to live, who had just fled the war.  After posting a request on Facebook, she received a message from a man who wanted to be with a single, Ukrainian woman because he had been single for a long time.

"We take this very seriously, and therefore we have increased our awareness around these concerns. We are actively working on several initiatives", chief of staff in Oslo's police district, Harald Nilssen, said.

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Nilssen said that the police in Oslo have initiated work across departments to prevent and uncover sexual abuse and exploitation of Ukrainian refugees.

There's also concern in the west police district.

"We get a lot of tips, some with reliable information and some a little more uncertain, that confirms what Oslo has also received", police inspector Tore Salvesen said.

So far, they have not had any specific cases that have been reported, but are actively working on all the tips they receive.

"We see greater activity online also in terms of the type of abuse and planning of crime. So it is something we follow closely", Salvesen said.

The newspaper Tønsbergs Blad has also reported that Norway's southeastern police district is currently investigating two cases against Ukrainian networks that conduct human trafficking.

"We know that they work in Tønsberg, Skien and Drammen. Here we are talking about large, well organisation criminal networks", said Tove Møller, who works with human trafficking in the police district.

"They are so large and well organised that it almost does not help to arrest some individuals. Then the network just put a new person in that role."

Tove Møller has said that work is being done to uncover human trafficking in all levels of the police district.

The efforts include patrols that stop cars and find Norwegian drivers with Ukrainian women. The police have also increased the number of investigators and border guards at Sandefjord Airport, which is located south of Oslo.

The Red Cross is also concerned about vulnerable refugees, especially those who live in private homes with people they do not know.

"Not everyone who offers shelter and transport necessarily has good intentions. Therefore, it is important that relief work goes through established organisations with good routines", Ingvill Alisøy-Gjerløw, head of humanitarian programs in the Red Cross Norway, told TV2.

"These are people who have fled war. These are mothers who come with children while spouses are left in Norway. These are incredibly vulnerable people", she added.

READ ALSO: Ukrainian seasonal workers in Norway face restrictions to work permits

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