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Pilot’s effort to fly Ukrainian refugees on hold due to human trafficking concerns

As the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country rises, one pilot is using his own Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" to bring them to safety. Enrique Piñeyro, an Argentine-Italian ex-airline pilot turned filmmaker, has relocated more than 500 Ukrainians from Polish camps to safe destinations in Italy and Spain. Backed by his own nonprofit organization Solidaire, the 787 completed the first rescue mission in mid-March and has since completed additional flights to bring donations and supplies to refugee sites. "Time is of the essence: Women, children, and the elderly are unfit for combat and the dire conditions being forced upon them by war," said Piñeyro. "They have no choice but to leave loved ones." Piñeyro has worked closely with the refugees, recalling his experience of witnessing a 12-year-old boy crying inconsolably in his mother's arms. "She tried to hold him back and console him. Her 4-year-old boy looked on stunned and visibly traumatized. "It is time for the world to step-up and support Ukraine." Humanitarian mission comes to a halt as human trafficking concerns arise Despite two successful flights from Warsaw to Rome with over 230 refugees on board each flight, the aircraft has been prevented from returning to Poland's capital. Human trafficking rings were active in Ukraine and surrounding countries before the war. Now, Russia's invasion has forced women and children to run into the arms of awaiting predators. UNICEF has been warning the world for weeks that children fleeing war in Ukraine are at a higher risk of human trafficking and exploitation. Over three and a half million Ukrainians have fled over the border to neighboring countries in search of refuge, with nearly two million heading into Poland, according to statistics from the United Nations. With men under the age of 60 staying behind to fight, women are children are left to run with little help and no idea who to trust. With a lacking registration process in Poland and along its borders, refugees are disappearing. Over 500 unaccompanied children were identified crossing from Ukraine into Romania from February 24 - March 17. The true number of children separated from families during that time is likely much higher. Families who do make it to refugee camps are faced with a daunting task: putting their trust in strangers who don't speak their language. While camp volunteers have good intentions, complaints have arisen across Poland that men are lurking around the camps in the hopes of deceiving the already scared and confused women and children. The men promise safety in another country, but later sell the refugees into the sex trade. Earlier this month in Poland, a man was arrested for raping a 19-year-old Ukrainian refugee. "She escaped from war-torn Ukraine, did not speak Polish. She trusted a man who promised to help and shelter her. Unfortunately, all this turned out to be deceitful manipulation," Polish police reportedly said in a statement. The Polish Government has since tightened its controls on refugees and border crossings. "The Polish state tightened controls and borders and border crossings, which is good because there is human trafficking," said Piñeyro. "And that's fine because it must be controlled, especially at the points of exit and entry to Poland because, ultimately, on airplanes the possibility of human trafficking decreases a lot." Zyri reports that Piñeyro is holding meetings with government authorities in London as he attempts to continue carrying out humanitarian flights next week in search of more refugees. Many humanitarian efforts are being logged by Corporate Jet Investor, with a variety of aviation industry groups involved. Those wanting to donate or help should visit businessaviationukraine.org. Previous GlobalAir.com reporting on the Russia-Ukraine War: Russian oligarchs losing hiding spots for jets as Russia breaches treaty by allowing dual registrationOne month since Russia waged war on Ukraine: The impact so far on business aviation andamp; how the industry is helping war victimsNBAA hosts experts to provide perspectives on the global impact of the war in UkraineAntonov An-225 Mriya, world's largest plane, reportedly destroyed at Ukraine airport
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