Ukraine. Unicef: “Two out of three children have left the country. A crisis of enormous proportions “

Ukraine, UNICEF explains, already had the highest number of children in foster families across Europe before the war: more than 90,000 lived in institutions, orphanages, boarding schools and other care facilities. Two months into the conflict, almost two thirds of all children in Ukraine are displaced and seeking help. Hundreds were killed and many more were wounded. “Children are resilient, but they need help,” reads the UNICEF message.

06 MAY “The situation in Ukraine is a child protection crisis of enormous proportions, perhaps never seen before. Two months of war in Ukraine resulted in 7.7 million people being internally displaced and pushing more than 5.5 million people across international borders, including almost two thirds of all Hundreds of children were killed and many more were injured.Almost 200 attacks on health facilities have been reported and schools continue to be hit by attacks.While the Ukrainian government and humanitarian partners continue to work to protect the most vulnerable children , the needs are enormous. ”And this is only part of the picture described by UNICEF’s Regional Adviser on Child Protection in Europe and Central Asia, Aaron Greenberg, at today’s press conference at the Palace of Nations in Geneva.

Ukraine, UNICEF explains, “had the highest number of children in foster care to institutions throughout Europe before the war – over 90,000 lived in institutions, orphanages, boarding schools and other care facilities ”. Almost half of them are children with disabilities. “The impact of the war on these children was particularly devastating. Tens of thousands of children living in institutions or foster families returned with their families, many of them quickly when the war began. Many have not received the care and protection they need. , especially children with disabilities, ”explains the UNICEF consultant.

The war affected the psychosocial well-being of all children. All. Children have been displaced from their homes, separated from their carers and directly exposed to war. The children were shaken by the explosions of the bombs and the sound of the missile warning systems’ sirens. Almost all children face the absence of their fathers, older brothers or uncles, as almost all men between 18 and 60 have been mobilized for the fighting. And most importantly, many children have witnessed or been exposed to physical and sexual violence.

“But children are resilient – highlights Greenberg -. Decades of experience from UNICEF, which works with children affected by armed conflict, has clearly shown that a large number of affected children will recover if they return to school, stay in touch with their family and loved ones and regain a show normalcy in their own lives. . Some of them will need more intense psychological support. And a small but significant number will exhibit PTSD symptoms usually 2-4 months after their experience. This group will need intensive support from a group of dedicated professionals ”.

One of the current difficulties, in this context, is that even the workforce in Ukraine – social workers, child psychologists and other professionals – are affected by this conflict. “And the country needs them now – maybe more than ever.” For this reason, explains the UNICEF consultant, “it is more important than ever to maintain and support the workforce so that it continues to function. We must stand in solidarity with the backbone of Ukraine’s social workforce. We are in Lviv exploring the possibilities for , what will be a significant increase in support through existing government systems to support this workforce. “

Unicef ​​is working at full speed, to support the government, coordinate child protection partners and increase investment in local NGOs and public services. Since 24 February, UNICEF and partners have reached out to over 140,000 children and the people who care for them, with mental health and psychosocial services, most of which are direct meetings with qualified children and psychologists. More than 34,000 children have benefited from specialized services through casework in the social field and referral to support services thanks to the work of mobile teams of social workers, child psychologists, nurses and lawyers. We now have 56 mobile units in operation across the country, of which 12 in the east. Over 7,000 women and children were reached by violence prevention, risk reduction and response to violence, including gender-based violence services, including in the eastern areas of the country.

“But that’s not enough,” Greenberg points out. “Although we work tirelessly, I think we need to be prepared with more specialized offerings for children who have survived physical and sexual violence. And children with disabilities who have suffered disproportionately much during this war need emergency support. The government, UNICEF and partners are increasing the service for these children, ”he concludes.

May 6, 2022
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