Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine in late February, more than 12,700 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Norway.
The majority are women and children who have escaped war and tragedy. Many do not know anyone in Norway and some do not speak Norwegian or English.
Irena Doll from Ukraine has lived in Norway for 12 years and is delighted to see that many Norwegians have done all they can for refugees.
So, she was shocked when she received a very inappropriate request from a man to find a house for her mother.
– I was incredibly angry. This is not the way to a relationship or free home care. Doll says these are vulnerable women who left the war.
I noticed something was leaking
When the war broke out, Dalin’s mother fled from Mykolayiv, Ukraine, to Oslo, Norway. Doll lives in a small apartment, so he is looking for a separate apartment for his mother, who so far has had to sleep on a mattress on the floor.
– I posted a post on Facebook and got in touch with many people who want to help, says Doll.
One of those eager to help was someone who lived in eastern Norway. However, it did not take long for Doll to answer some of the questions asked by that person.
– I think everything was a little weird. Doll says he was very concerned that she should be Ukrainian, and wondered how old she was and whether she was alone.
After some messages back and forth, the man writes that he wants to be completely honest. He has been lonely for a while and wants to find someone who can live with him and share life with him.
“I want to get to know a Ukrainian woman who wants to live in Norway and have a good relationship with a man,” he writes to Doll.
– I’m so sorry. Not only on behalf of my mother, but on behalf of all Ukrainian refugees, says Doll.
Has sent messages to many
Doll speaks Norwegian fluently and is well acquainted with the Norwegian community, so she soon realizes that the man is trying to exploit her mother.
Nevertheless, she fears that many Ukrainian refugees who do not have a network in Norway could soon be exploited.
– Easy to misunderstand, especially when you are in a vulnerable situation, says Doll.
She usually works in Nav, but due to the war, she started as an information worker at the Arrivals Center in Doll Råde. She has seen through her work how many refugees are affected.
To warn other women, earlier this week she shared a photo of the conversation with a group of Ukrainian refugees.
Another woman wrote that she had received messages from the same man.
– What worries me is that some women may want to consider his opportunity because they do not know they can get help elsewhere, says Doll.
Police now fear that more criminals may want to exploit vulnerable refugees in need of assistance and housing.
– We take this very seriously, so we have increased our focus on this concern and are actively pursuing the activities, says Harold Nilsen, Chief of Staff of the Oslo Police District.
The same concern exists in the Western Police District.
– We are getting a lot of tips as well as some secure information confirming what Oslo received and a little more uncertain information, says Police Inspector Torre Salveson.
So far, they have not reported any specific cases, but are actively pursuing all the tips they receive.
– This is a serious condition. We must remember that these are women and children who have already experienced traumatic events in their hometown. The risk of being relocated to a completely new country and being abused again is very serious, says Salvation.
Has implemented several measures
In both police districts, steps are now being taken to prevent refugees from encountering untoward incidents.
– Harold Nilsen of the Oslo Police says work has begun across agencies to prevent and detect cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of refugees.
An important part of this work is mapping what is happening on the Internet.
– We find more activity online based on the type of abuse and crime planning. So we follow it closely, says Torrey Salvation.
– Not everyone has good thoughts
The Red Cross is also concerned about vulnerable refugees, especially those living in private homes with strangers.
– Not everyone who provides shelter and transportation needs to have good intentions. Therefore, it is important that relief efforts go through well-established organizations, says Ingville Alysoy-Gerlov, head of the Norwegian Red Cross’s Humanitarian Programs.
She finds it sad and very unfortunate that someone is trying to take advantage of the situation.
– These are the people who escaped from the war. These are mothers who come with children when their wives leave Norway. They are incredibly vulnerable, says Alysoy-Gerlov.
Low threshold for notification
Irena Doll hopes that the police and Norwegian authorities will do their best to protect the refugees.
– Doll says it is important for refugees to have good guidance and clear information about what rights they have.
She fears that not all men are equally honest about what they really want and that vulnerable refugees could soon be exploited.
– Ukrainian women should be aware that in Norway there is a very limited limit to reporting such things. Here, everyone has rights and are taken care of, Doll says.
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