1 July 2014

Ukraine evacuation: SOS families in Lugansk relocate for safety

Ukrainian girl. Photo: Marko Magi

SOS Children’s Villages in Lugansk, Ukraine, takes decision to relocate SOS families and children to safer locations in response to violence and civil unrest between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.

1 July 2014 - Five SOS families, with a total of 20 children, have been relocated to safer locations in Ukraine after being evacuated from the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk. It is not clear when they will be able to return home.
 
There are a total of six SOS families in Lugansk, including two foster families. One of the foster families still remains in Lugansk. Preparations are being made for their possible evacuation this week.


The children of SOS Children's Villages Lugansk enjoying a celebration last month. Photo: SOS Archives
Lyudmila, an SOS Children’s Villages co-worker in Ukraine, says of the families who have already been relocated: “They are living in rented private houses or flats; some have their own houses. At the moment everything is fine.”
 
Safety was the main criterion in choosing the families’ new accommodations. “The places are quite far [from Lugansk] and strategically there is nothing interesting for the fighters,” says Lyudmila. “One of the families is now in Kharkiv, and others are even further away from the city of Lugansk in a region to which it is very unlikely the fighting will spread.”
 
The SOS families will remain in their new locations at least until 1 September.
 
“At the moment we cannot exclude the possibility that the children will have to go to school there as well,” said Lyudmila. “Our partners, the local social services, are helping the families. “We will be in constant phone contact and we will drive to them at least once per month.”
 
The SOS family strengthening programme continues to function in Lugansk, offering basic supplies and medical help to children and families who have stayed in the city.
 
“Everybody is hoping that the negotiations between the conflicting parties will have a positive result,” says Lyudmila.
 
 
Statement from SOS Children’s Villages CEO Richard Pichler on the violence in Ukraine:
 
“The continuing violence in eastern Ukraine has made it impossible for SOS Children’s Villages in Lugansk to continue operating as usual. Since the safety and wellbeing of the children in the care of SOS Children’s Villages is of paramount importance, the decision has been taken to relocate children from SOS families in Lugansk to safer locations in Ukraine.
 
“We appeal to all parties in the conflict to respect their obligation under international human rights law to protect the lives and well-being of children.
 
“Children in Ukraine, and indeed anywhere, have a fundamental right to security, enshrined in international human rights law.”