Between 3-5 April, a group of 32 participants from across Ukraine travelled to Krákow in Poland, to share their experiences in the final of our series of workshops on the Ukraine Crisis Response.
Since the start of the full scale invasion, the organisations that these participants represented have been working tirelessly, through shelling, bombing, electricity cuts and emergency evacuations to help Ukrainian children and their families. These organisations include:
- La Strada Ukraine, our member and 24/7 anonymous helpline for children in Ukraine;
- The Ombudsman for Human Rights, which oversees the protection of human and citizens constitutional rights in Ukraine;
- Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health, an international charitable foundation working to build lasting access to health for marginalized communities in Ukraine, including orphans and vulnerable children;
- In Touch Ukraine, a team of volunteers from Zhytomyr providing material and non-material support to children, young people and families affected by Russian Aggression in Ukraine;
- UEP, the Ukrainian Educational Platform: a driver of social change in the country, it is a charitable organisation that implements innovative social projects and creates educational programmes for civic leaders and organisations;
- All Ukrainian Public Center: Volunteer, a group of young people, teachers, psychologists, officers, historians and journalists who provide volunteering work across Ukraine;
- Ukrainian Child Rights Network, an organization dedicated to coordinating civil society organizations in Ukraine in order to promote the best interests of Ukrainian children through advocacy and lobbying initiatives;
- Social Synergy, an organization advocating for the rights and freedoms of children and young people in Ukrainian communities, with a particular focus on children and young people with disabilities;
- Divchata; an NGO engaged in the education of teenage girls in Ukraine, including sexual education and career coaching; and
- Dzherelocentre, an organization providing family-centred, education and rehabilitation services for children and youth with disabilities in Ukraine, as well as children at risk, through an interdisciplinary team of specialists alongside parents.
All images © Krystian Mleczko
This inspiring group of people engaged in training sessions on conflict-related trafficking and GBV led by myself; trauma-informed care provided by Professor Kieran McCartan and counsellor wellbeing led by Dr Maggie Brennan. In a panel session on the third day, we brainstormed the specific risks of unaccompanied and separated minors from Ukraine with Kirsty Thompson, Senior Director for KIND in Europe; spoke about Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation with Dr Maggie Brennan and Zoé Colpaert from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children; and looked at how to integrate trauma-informed care across organizations with Dr Kieran McCartan.
All images © Krystian Mleczko
In the final session, we came together to discuss challenges to the rights of children in the context of the war, as well as possible solutions to these. One key messages that stayed with me was the overarching need for greater collaboration across organizations to ensure smoother referral pathways as well as better service mapping and sharing of best practices. I also heard the concerns counsellors and frontline workers expressed about ongoing risks to children from Ukraine both in terms of abuse, neglect and exploitation, as well as to their mental health.
I was incredibly impressed by the strength and perseverance demonstrated by the participants, not only in this workshop but across all seven of the in-country workshops the we have been hosting together with UNICEF ECARO over the past two months. My hope is that we can build on the momentum of this meeting to forge closer alliances between one another and continue our work to protect children, young people and their families from Ukraine.
Child Protection/Gender-Based Violence Expert,
Ukrainian Crisis Response Team