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A Third Year of War: Supporting Ukrainian Children in a Continuing Crisis

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24 February 2024 marked the 2nd anniversary of the War in Ukraine. Two years ago the lives of millions of children and young people changed forever. Today, almost 3 million children in Ukraine are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance: they are missing out on basic necessities including food, heating, shelter and healthcare. Almost 4 million people remain displaced within Ukraine, and a further 6.3 million have been forced to flee across borders to seek refuge, often being separated from family members and loved ones as they leave behind everything they’ve ever known in search of safety and security. According to UNICEF, more than half of Ukraine’s children were displaced within the first month of the war alone.

The children and young people of Ukraine have seen their homes bombed, their schools destroyed, their playgrounds levelled. Children and young people who have become displaced are faced with unimaginable challenges, as they adjust to life in unfamiliar surroundings.

This War – every war – is a War Against Children. Ongoing conflict exacerbates children’s needs for protection, mental health and psychological support. The psychological toll of war is profound and long-lasting. Children exposed to violence and displacement are at an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The constant fear, uncertainty and loss experienced during conflict can have a devastating impact on their emotional and psychological development, leaving them vulnerable and in need of urgent support.

That’s why it’s so crucial to prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of children affected by the conflict in Ukraine. As the international community rallies to provide humanitarian aid and support, it’s essential not to overlook the unique needs of children and young people in crisis situations. Providing access to mental health services, psychosocial support, and safe spaces for children to express themselves is essential in helping them heal and rebuild their lives amidst the chaos of war. This is where child helplines play such an important role in the lives of children and younger people in crisis.

As part of our ongoing work to support our Ukrainian child helpline member, and our members in those countries surrounding Ukraine who are hosting many thousands of displaced Ukrainian children and young people, we have developed a special, short informative animation.

This animation encourages Ukrainian children and young people to reach out to child helplines in the countries in which they now find themselves, together with the contact information they need. Through this animation, we hope to reach those children and young people who may otherwise be struggling in silence, offering them a lifeline of support and resources to cope with the challenges they face. Whether it’s providing a listening ear, connecting them with mental health professionals, or simply offering a sense of safety and reassurance, our goal is to ensure that they can always reach one of our child helpline members, and that no child affected by the conflict in Ukraine feels alone or forgotten.

We continue to stand in solidarity with the children and young people of Ukraine, and with all of our child helpline members offering hope and healing in this time of greatest need.

Patrick Krens
Executive Director