Ukraine - 24 February 2023

War in Ukraine - one year on: children in institutions remain at risk

The war in Ukraine continues to disrupt the lives of millions of children, denying their fundamental rights and driving families apart.

Some 3.4 million Ukrainian children are in need of child protection.[1] The situation remains especially dire for about 106,000 children - about half of them children with disabilities – who lived in various institutions such as orphanages and boarding schools before the ongoing conflict began.

SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine supported in the evacuation of hundreds of children and their caregivers from institutions, as well as hundreds of foster families, to safer locations in western Ukraine.

However, as the war enters its second year, institutions continue to fail in providing primary care, psychosocial support and assistance to children and children with disabilities. Institutional care is harmful to children’s wellbeing and development, as it lacks the individualized nurturing care and emotional support children need.

“Children in institutional care are among those facing the highest risks of neglect, violence and trafficking, especially in the midst of the ongoing war,” says Serhii Lukashov, national director of SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine.  

“We call on the international community to support the Ukrainian government in its obligations to protect these children. As a short-term emergency measure, relevant authorities, with international assistance, should reorganize institutions into small-scale community-integrated childcare facilities that are able to meet the specific needs of each child, and mobilize communities and charities to the establishment of an efficient network of foster families and services for family support,” says Mr. Lukashov

Mental health support must be scaled up

Over the past year in Ukraine, SOS Children’s Villages provided child protection and humanitarian assistance to over 125,000 people in Ukraine, of which about 74,000 are children.  Our support ranged from cash and vouchers to 23,000 families to mental health and psychosocial counseling to upwards of 17,000 children and their caregivers to address trauma from the war.

Humanitarian interventions in Ukraine and refugee hosting countries must continue to prioritize culturally sensitive mental health care for all affected children, families and other legal guardians. The World Health Organization expects that approximately 9.6 million people in Ukraine may have a mental health condition. 

“Children have the right to quality care, protection, including access to mental health support in Ukraine and in countries receiving displaced children,” says Dr. Dereje Wordofa, president of SOS Children’s Villages International. “With our local and international presence, SOS Children’s Villages is uniquely placed to serve migrant families and children on the move, unaccompanied, or separated from their families. We must join hands to ensure that they are protected and receive dedicated care.”

In 2023, SOS Children’s Villages aims to directly support at least 170,000 children and adults in Ukraine.

About SOS Children's Villages in Ukraine

SOS Children's Villages has been helping children without parental help and families in difficult life circumstances for over 19 years in Ukraine. Since the start of the war in February 2022, SOS Children's Villages in Ukraine has scaled up its efforts to protect children, expanding its programmes into 17 regions. In 2022, more than 125,000 children and adults received our help.

About SOS Children's Villages

SOS Children's Villages, founded in 1949, 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 are 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.

To learn more, visit

Factsheet: One year of war in Ukraine

Millions of children both in and outside of Ukraine are displaced or are at risk of losing parental care. Millions of children and adults will be traumatized by this war, and need mental health and psychosocial support services. 

By the end of 2022, a total of 17.7 million people were estimated to require urgent humanitarian assistance, including 3.4 million children (under 18) requiring protection interventions.[2]

The frequent use of explosive weapons in populated areas, including shelling from heavy artillery and rockets, as well as missile and air strikes has left hundreds of civilians killed, injured, or mutilated. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, there were 18,995 civilian casualties in the country.  7,199 were killed, including 438 children.  11,756 were injured, including 854 children.[3]

There are 5.9 million internally displaced people in Ukraine, including 1.5 million children.[4] While children make up 25% of the population, they account for nearly 40% of 10.4 million people experiencing poverty this year.[5] 3.6 million children continue to have problems with access to the quality education they have the right to have.[6]

Eight million people from Ukraine are currently displaced across Europe, without the support of their families and communities.[7] They often desperately need support, without which their lives would be extremely difficult. Ninety percent of Ukrainian refugees are women and children.

How we helped

SOS Children’s Villages scaled up its operations in Ukraine to address the urgent needs of children and families, in particular children without parental care or at risk of losing it. Since the start of the war, we provided support to 125,000 people in Ukraine, 74,000 of them children.

SOS Children’s Villages associations in neighbouring countries joined the efforts and helped over 11,000 people from Ukraine. This included accommodations, mental health counseling, and support accessing schools and services in host countries.  SOS Children’s Villages in Poland, Italy, and Latvia received evacuated Ukrainian foster families shortly after the outbreak of the war and continue to host them.

Our cash and voucher assistance programme in Ukraine has supported 23,000 people from foster, kinship, and guardian families, as well as single mothers with children with cash to pay for basic living expenses. More than 17,000 people in Ukraine received mental health and psychosocial support, many via mobile teams of psychologists who work with children and parents to address trauma from the war.

SOS Children’s Villages operates several Social Service Centers in western and central Ukraine that are distribution points for humanitarian assistance. They have been organized and equipped to also serve as bomb shelters. Here, families can access CVA, group, and individual mental health support, and receive winter supplies, like firewood, blankets, kettles, heaters, convectors, strollers, outerwear, and footwear, among other items.

SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine provided long-term support to children injured by war. To date, 628 children and their caregivers were under comprehensive support.

The total financial value of SOS Children’s Villages support to children and adults from Ukraine, both in the country and abroad in 2022 was 31,49 million euros. This includes our emergency response and international development programmes as well as the support provided by our European member associations in their countries.



Tomasz Trabuc


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