The war in Ukraine has brought to light, as well as exacerbated, the grave harms experienced by children in orphanages. We cannot allow this to continue. We echo calls from the UN and others for a fresh approach and we know that significant funding is required - there is a better way forwards for Ukraine’s institutionalised children, the majority of whom have parents who, with the right support can – and want to - take care of them.
Last month Lumos held a UK Parliamentary briefing with the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, where we urged international decision-makers to address the horrendous situation Ukraine’s most vulnerable children face. In times of war, the default solution is often to place children – including those with disabilities, refugees and those who are separated from their families – in institutions. This must not happen either in Ukraine or in refugee host countries. In institutions, the risks of further trauma, abuse and even child trafficking are very real, and have lifelong consequences. With the right support the international community can redirect the funding that props up these institutions to the families and communities that can best care for these children.
We must act now to ensure that children are not forgotten but are instead at the heart of Ukraine’s plans for recovery.