Children a confict’s most vulnerable victims – Inger Ashing

Europe must put children first in its response to the conflict in Ukraine.

children, Ukraine
Halyna* (right) with Alice* in the child-friendly area of ​​the shelter where she now lives with her family (Save the Children)

On February 24, in Kyiv, Halyna (not her real name) woke up to find her mother crying while watching the news on TV. “I understood that the war had begun,” she said, “and my first words were, ‘Will I live until I’m 12?’

Soon Halyna heard rockets overhead and explosions rattling the windows of her home. After hiding in an air raid shelter for six days, her family packed up and moved to an animal shelter in Chernivtsi, western Ukraine, where she shared her story with Save the Children.

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This is the living reality for millions of children in Ukraine and millions more fleeing violence in the country. And against this background, the European Forum on the Rights of the Child takes place in Brussels. This is a crucial moment for the European Union to take stock of its efforts to protect children’s rights.

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Huge Crisis

The EU can rightly be proud of many of its initiatives to protect children from Ukraine. The rapid activation of the Temporary Protection Directive has resulted in two million refugee children finding the security and stability they desperately need. The union has mobilized more than 700 million euros for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. But welcome as these measures are, the sheer scale of the crisis has presented governments with enormous challenges.