The war in Ukraine has been devastating for the country’s children, particularly those in the most vulnerable situations, including children without parental care, children with disabilities, children at risk of family separation, those residing in residential institutions, as well as those who have been evacuated from such institutions during the war.
An extensive body of evidence clearly shows that residential institutions are harmful to children. In its opinion on Ukraine’s application for EU membership, the European Commission stated that “Ukraine has one of the highest rates of child institutionalisation in the world (ca. 1.5% of all children), which is a serious concern and needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency.” Prior to the war, over 90% of institutionalised children in Ukraine had at least one living parent with parental rights, and nearly half were children with disabilities. These children were exposed to the harm, neglect and abuse that are common practice within institutional systems. Recent reports have highlighted the severe risk of harm and human rights violations experienced by this group of children during the war and the urgency of the need to remove them from institutions and provide support for family and community care.
International and national NGOs with expertise in child protection, disability inclusion and human rights and many years of experience working in Ukraine, developed these recommendations for the Government of Ukraine and its international parterns to ensure an inclusive child protection and care system.