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Delegation of professional women flew from Ukraine to meet with Comptroller Mychajliw, a fellow Ukrainian, to share ideas on how to fight human trafficking here at home and around the world


Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw hosted numerous elected leaders and lawyers from Ukraine recently as part of Open World 2018 through the International Institute of Buffalo to discuss Erie County’s strong efforts to combat human trafficking.  Most of Comptroller Mychajliw’s family were born in Ukraine and came to the United States in 1965.  The delegation of Ukrainian lawyers and public officials flew in from Ukraine to meet with Comptroller Mychajliw.


“I’m a husband to a social worker, and father to a newborn son and 12-year-old daughter. My family is everything to me. I pray every single day that my wife and daughter are safe and protected. Evil people exist that commit horrific atrocities.  I thank the many professionals here at home and in Ukraine that are fighting to save victims and end human trafficking,” said Comptroller Mychajliw.


During the meeting, Comptroller Mychajliw explained the procedure that Erie County follows to allocate funding for programs, including the Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance.


“I regularly meet with Legislators and the Sheriff’s Office about this issue.  I have championed funding to combat human trafficking. Erie County’s division has been recognized on numerous occasions and looked to as a leader in this fight because we prioritize this serious issue,” added Comptroller Mychajliw.


“I was impressed with the group’s dedication to fighting human trafficking in Ukraine and around the world.  I applaud these courageous and brave women for their advocacy efforts on such an important cause. I hope that they learned a lot during their visit to Buffalo that can be applied to help human trafficking victims.”


Efforts in Erie County have been expanding. The Western District of New York's Anti-Trafficking Task Force has been funded by the Department of Justice since 2006, and continues to be co-facilitated by International Institute of Buffalo (IIB), Erie County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney's Office. It is one of the longest standing Human Trafficking Task Forces in the country. The grant, called the Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking, supports all of the law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking with the Sheriff's Office being the primary law enforcement local agency within Erie County.


In 2017, the Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force & Alliance and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office responded to 76 potential human trafficking investigations: 89 percent were sex trafficking investigations and 12 percent were labor trafficking investigations. In total, 72 potential victims were identified: 67 percent domestic U.S. citizens, 33 percent foreign nationals, and 42 percent were minors (underage of 18). 


In 2017, the International Institute of Buffalo served nearly 175 survivors of human trafficking. IIB serves any and all survivors including men, women, minors, and those who have escaped from labor and sex trafficking exploitation. Survivors in WNY have been identified after escaping construction sites, hotel/motel work, restaurants, hotel and street-based sex work, domestic servitude, farms, and massage parlors.


While IIB works will all survivors of human trafficking, the Erie County Department of Social Services provides specific support for work with trafficked youth. This collaboration has been in place since 2013 and IIB has seen an 800 percent increase in identified youth since that time.


“This Ukrainian delegation learned important lessons on how we combat this terrible crime here in Erie County.  They also learned skills on how to fight human trafficking overseas.  It was an honor to meet with these brave women.  I applaud them for traveling half-way around the world to collaborate and come up with ways we both can stop this atrocity,” concluded Comptroller Mychajliw.