UKRAINE - 17 June 2024

Foster families and children from Kharkiv relocated to Western Ukraine

Escalating violence and shelling in Ukraine’s northeastern province of Kharkivska led the government to call for an evacuation of people to safer regions in the west. SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine supported the evacuation of 17 foster families, providing them with accommodations in the west where they will stay for at least three months.

Fifty children and 25 foster parents arrived safely in a secure region at the end of May. They were welcomed by the staff of SOS Children’s Villages Ukraine, along with social services and non-governmental partners. These families are receiving psychosocial support, and they will be given options to remain in a safe area for a longer period during the summer.

In early June, another group of at-risk families consisting of 16 parents and 31 children were given temporary accommodation in the Volyn region, bringing the total number of people supported to 122.

Tatiana*, a mother of two children, Sofia* and Kirill*, expressed her gratitude: "Honestly, there are no words... emotions are overwhelming for their children. They live in such difficult times, it's so hard to stay positive, to believe in miracles, in humanity... but what you are doing for the children is a real fairy tale.

“Children can sleep all night, they don’t hear the air raid alarm, don’t twitch because of its sound, don’t track messages in the ‘radar’ about the direction of the missiles and the danger, don’t hear the Shahed drones. Instead, they will spend these days as normal children enjoying the mountains, nature, normal living conditions... a huge parental thank you! Words cannot express my gratitude," Tatiana said. 


‘On another planet’

In early June, an additional 101 children and young people arrived at a children's summer camp sponsored by SOS Children’s Villages. Located in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, they will stay at the camp for most of the month. The camp provides a structured program to help children cope with their experiences, including activities aimed at emotional stabilization and recovery. The psychologist Yana from the Kharkiv mobile psychosocial team works with children on site, and the Ivano-Frankivsk psychosocial mobile team also joined in activities.

Not much time has passed, and the children have already made new friends. A swimming pool and excursions to the picturesque nature of Prykarpattia are part their activities.

"It's like we're on another planet, and the most important thing is that it's quiet here, there are no air raid alarms and you can walk freely. They feed us deliciously and even give us an extra portion!" said 10-year-old Sashko*, reflecting on his early day at the camp.


Find longer term solutions

Since Russia's latest offensive began early last month, Kharkiv and its surrounding areas have experienced severe bombardments. A missile strike on an apartment building in the city of Kharkiv on the night of May 30-31 resulted in at least nine people killed and and 20 injured. Further attacks on villages, such as the missile strike in Balakliia on May 31-June 1, left several people, including children and a pregnant woman, injured.

Due to the worsening situation, the government requested assistance from Ukrainian and international NGOs, as well as humanitarian organizations, to help evacuate and provide temporary accommodation for the most vulnerable people, including foster families. 

SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine will support these families for the next three months. Meanwhile, local authorities will work to help them find more permanent accommodations in their communities. 

In more than two years of war, SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine has provided services to more than 385,000 people.

*Names changed to protect privacy

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