Children and war: the risks of children during the evacuation

At the OSCE/ODIHR Human Dimension Conference, during a side event on the protection of the rights of Ukrainian children in a situation of mass migration, Svetlana Shcherban (Kharkiv Institute for Social Research) spoke about the problems of evacuating families with children:

Due to the security threat, people continue to evacuate from the temporarily occupied territories and territories where active hostilities are taking place. Since July 29, mandatory evacuation of residents of the non-occupied areas of the Donetsk region has been introduced in Ukraine. If citizens disagree to evacuate, they must sign a refusal form confirming that they understand all the consequences and are responsible for their lives. An important decision related to mandatory evacuation was an increase in responsibility for the lives of orphans and children deprived of parental care. For refusing to evacuate, families as well as foster care and orphanages raising children will lose their right of custody. In the future, it is planned to expand the mandatory evacuation to the territory of other regions where constant shelling occurs and public services are destroyed without the possibility of their quick restoration (supplies of gas, water, heat and electricity). These are, first of all, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mykolaiv areas.

The expert noted that the evacuation is usually organised by local authorities and volunteer organizations. Departure from temporarily occupied territories is often associated with a number of risks. This is both a direct threat to health and life due to uncontrolled shelling and a threat to remain on long-term filtration for adults. Any of the situations described can be critical for children that their parents are trying to take out. There is a high probability of separation of parents and children during the evacuation and children can be sent to the territory of the Russian Federation unaccompanied by relatives.

Natalia Dmytruk (Gender Creative Space) drew attention to the problems that internally displaced families with children face in Ukraine:

The psychological state of both children and adults is aggravated by the lack of personal space, overcrowding, and an insufficient level of comfort in temporary accommodations. Local authorities distance themselves from solving problematic situations with a housing shortage and responsibility for improving the living conditions of families with children. There are not enough places in preschool educational institutions, there are not enough psychological support services for children/adolescents, especially in rural areas, there is insufficient support for children with special educational needs, children with psychophysical development disorders and children with disabilities. There is a shortage of staff in boarding schools for people with disabilities, and there is a lack of specialized medical care for children with disabilities. There is a shortage of medicines and vaccines for children.

Separately, it is noted that as a result of the lack of developed rules for empathic communication with IDP families, due to insufficient command of the Ukrainian language, there are cases of discrimination against children and families by politically engaged and intolerant members of local communities and officials.

Эта запись так же доступна на: Russian