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UKRAINE

Norwegian police warn of exploitation of Ukrainian refugees

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.

Woman on an iphone and laptop
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

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.

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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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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