May 6 2014

Ukraine Update: "Anxiety is Being Transmitted to Children"

Insecurity About Ukraine´s Future Affecting Kids and Adults Alike

06.05.2014 - Tensions remained high across Ukraine this week, but especially in the Eastern and Southern regions, as well as in Kiev. Last weekend there were casualties on both sides, as Ukrainian military and pro-Russian activists clashed.

SOS children and families in Lugansk, in the eastern-most region of Ukraine, close to the Russian border, are safe. However, both adults and children are anxious about the future, said Lyudmila Harchenko, the SOS Children´s Villages Programme Director in Lugansk.

“On May 11, pro-Russians intend to hold a referendum on whether Lugansk should stay with Ukraine or become a part of Russia. I think the general mood favours Ukraine, but nobody knows what will happen on May 11 and what life will be like after that. The question is being widely discussed in families as well, and the anxiety is being transmitted to children,” she said.
Schools and kindergartens are still operating, but only about 30% of school-age children are attending. All precautions are being taken to ensure the continued safety of SOS children and their families, including staying home from school and avoiding travel into the centre of Lugansk, where pro-Russian activists seized government buildings and the local television station last week.

SOS Children´s Villages operates villages and Family Strengthening Programmes in Lugansk and Brovary, Ukraine. Image: © SOS Children´s Villages

In addition, the bank that handles all state payments – affecting government workers, students, pensioners and everyone who receives any form of social support, including SOS parents – is closed, after someone attacked its armoured cars and cash machines. “

Everybody received their money from the bank this month, but nobody knows what will happen in June. This is adding to the anxiety,” Ms Harchenko said.

The SOS Children´s Villages Family Strengthening Programme in Lugansk currently serves 147 families and 288 children. Under normal circumstances, it provides families with educational and psychological support. Now it is also providing them with food.

“The trend is that parents are losing their jobs because many companies are not working at full capacity and therefore they are forcing people to go on holiday with no pay, or they are letting them go. Losing a job at the moment adds more insecurity – how to feed the children?” said the programme director. “They have nothing to eat, and these are not families with savings.”