Press release – March 4 2022

Millions of children in Ukraine risk growing up without the care they need

INNSBRUCK, Austria, 04 March 2022 – Children and families in Ukraine face unimaginable fear and destruction. Childhoods are abruptly disrupted. Families are torn apart. Parents face unbearable choices. Millions of children risk growing up without the care they need, now more than ever.  

SOS Children’s Villages calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities until a ceasefire has been negotiated.

“Ukraine’s 7.5 million children are in immediate danger and need the world’s full support,” says Dereje Wordofa, President of SOS Children’s Villages International.  

“In Ukraine, the number of children losing a parent is likely to grow quickly as the conflict develops,” says Dr. Wordofa.

“Children are being separated from their families right when they need them most. Some parents are on the front line; others see no other choice than to flee the country with their children but are often forced to leave one or more family members behind,” he says.

Urgent measures must be taken to protect and care for all affected children and families. This includes special support for children in foster or kinship care, and support for refugees at borders and in neighbouring countries.

Dr. Wordofa says, “Every child has a right to grow and develop in a safe and secure environment. Every child has the right to have parents or dedicated caregivers by their side. The need is even stronger when the world crumbles around them.”

Urgent needs of children in alternative care

Ukraine has an estimated 98,000 children growing up in state residential institutions, and another 64,000 in foster care and kinship care. As the situation progresses, many more children and young people risk being on their own, in need of alternative care. 

Serhii Lukashov, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Ukraine, warned of the urgent needs of children in alternative care as the war has cut off many state residential institutions from any support. “They have no supplies and no money. We are finding ways to support them with their immediate needs, in close collaboration with other local organizations,” he says. “We will continue our work to protect children from the horror of war.”

SOS Children’s Villages has launched an emergency programme to support 177 children and families in SOS Children's Villages programmes, as well as the many thousands of children in foster care, kinship care, boarding schools and residential institutions.

Our regional Ukraine crisis emergency response and longer-term actions are:

  • Immediate support to children - and their families – in foster, kinship care and state residential institutions. Some 80 children and their foster parents supported by SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine have been relocated to SOS Children’s Villages in Poland. Efforts are now underway, in cooperation with local partner organizations, to provide food, supplies, psychosocial support, and relocation of other children in state residential institutions, as well as in foster and kinship care families.
  • Aid to refugees. Teams in neighbouring countries, including SOS Children’s Villages Poland and SOS Children’s Villages Romania, are scaling up efforts to receive refugees.
  • Strengthen families in the future. In the long-term, we will work with partners to support families to recover and rebuild. 

SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine: SOS Children’s Villages began working in Ukraine in 2003, and in 2010 opened the first SOS Children’s Village in Brovary, Kyiv region. The work in Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, began in 2012, and was reorganized in 2014 to respond to the needs of children and families on both sides of the contact line. The programme in Luhansk City (the non-government controlled area) is to close by April 2022.


About SOS Children’s Villages 

SOS Children's Villages, founded in 1949 by Hermann Gmeiner, is the world's largest non-governmental organization focused on supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it.

Child neglect, abuse and abandonment is everywhere. Families are at risk of separation. Locally led, we work in more than 130 countries and territories to strengthen families who are under pressure so they can stay together. When this is not in a child or young person's best interests, we provide quality care according to their unique needs.

Together with partners, donors, communities, children, young people and families, we enable children to grow up with the bonds they need to develop and become their strongest selves. We speak up for each child's rights and advocate for change so all children can grow up in a supportive environment.

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