Emptying Ukraine’s Orphanages

Eurochild contributes to investigation on the situation of children evacuated from orphanages in Ukraine

Earlier this month, a new investigation from Reuters was published on the orphanage system in Ukraine and tracing lived experience of children in this system whose lives have been completely uprooted since the invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February.

The investigation is centred around the story of Tanya, a 12-year old child with autism who has been evacuated from the Odesa Orphanage-Boarding School to the Ivano-Frankivsk region over the duration of this devastating war. By time of publication, Tanya is ‘settling well’ in her new place of residence.

The investigation also sheds slight on the challenges around tracing evacuated children from institutional care within Ukraine and beyond its borders. At the time of the Russia’s invasion Ukraine had the highest rate of institutionalisation in Europe, many children were returned to their families, but the lack of coherent data across the region means that it’s impossible to know exactly if and how many children were evacuated. Because of this worrying data gap, children are at greater risk of falling victim to violence, abuse or human trafficking.

Eurochild played a key role in guiding the investigation by Reuters journalists, namely by:

  • Assisting the Reuters team to navigate the complex alternative care systems across Europe, including in Ukraine.
  • Directing the investigation towards key issues in Ukraine’s alternative care system, such as the overreliance on institutional care settings for providing care for some of Ukraine’s most vulnerable children, including children with disabilities and those growing up in poverty.
  • Providing clarity on latest available data on alternative care in Europe – drawing in part from our DataCare project, as well as other key sources.

The article also captures well efforts to catalyse reform and strengthen Ukaine’s child protection system, something that Eurochild continues to advocate for, together with key international partners and allies in the region and internationally.

Read the full article Emptying Ukraine’s Orphanages: Ukraine seeks to trace thousands of ‘orphans’ scattered by war.

For further information, contact Ciaran O’Donnell from the Eurochild Secretariat.

Photo above: Tanya watches other children draw with chalk in a play area at the Odesa Orphanage-Boarding School. REUTERS/Edgar Su. Below: graph from Reuters using data from DataCare

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