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Ukraine Crisis Response

Sunflowers

Hearing the voices of Ukrainian Children and Young People: Child Helplines Responding to the Ukraine Crisis

Context

The escalation of hostilities in Ukraine has worsened the humanitarian crisis and resulted in numerous violations of human rights. Millions of children are displaced within Ukraine and millions are displaced in neighbouring countries. Displaced children are at great risk of trafficking, violence, exploitation, and abuse, with unaccompanied children, especially girls being the most vulnerable. In addition, there is an exposure to trauma and mental health issues, including stress and anxiety. The large numbers of refugees will put pressure on the health and mental health and psycho-social support services (MHPSS) in neighbouring countries.

Child helplines play a crucial role in the national and regional child protection system. Child helplines are a key mechanism to protect children from violence, and to provide accessible mental health and psychosocial support services, referrals, guidance and accurate information. Child helplines are an essential service during a crisis, as the remote and flexible nature of their services enable them to operate when other services cannot. They have strong and diverse referral networks and resource directories and, if effectively resourced, they can also quickly scale up their operations. Child helplines can also, if properly resourced, provide services in multiple languages, either through increased human resources, or through use of different technologies and re-routing of contacts. This is highly relevant in a refugee crisis.

Child Helpline International’s strategy, in partnership with the UNICEF European and Central Asian Regional Office, is to focus on the needs of our member in Ukraine and the needs from our members in the surrounding countries (Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova). Using this incredible resource of the harmonised 116 111 number, we strive to provide support to children and young people, especially girls and young women, as well as create opportunities for advocacy around the harmonised 116 111 number at the European level. By increasing awareness of child helpline services, we hope to increase the number of calls from children and young people affected by the war in Ukraine. We also aim to strengthen and sustain the capacity of child helplines to provide excellent services to children and young people in need of care and protection. We want to ensure that children’s voices are heard and that their voices are amplified.

Aims

  1. To Improve and maintain the capacity of child helplines to ensure quality services and young people in need of care and protection, with a particular focus on children affected by the war in Ukraine.
  2. To raise awareness of the public, with particular focus on Ukrainian children and parents of the existence of child helpline services (especially the harmonised 116 111 number) for children and families.
  3. To ensure the inclusion and amplification of children’s voices and generate evidence to influence policymaking through reliable national and regional data collection, analysis and sharing.

Project Period

June 2022 – May 2023

Target Groups

  • 3 million children internally displaced in Ukraine (6 September 2022).
  • 2 million Ukrainian children in refugee-hosting countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Moldova, and Bulgaria).
  • Local children affected by the conflict.
  • Parents/caregivers of children affected by war in Ukraine
 

    More specifically :

  • Children on the move
  • Unaccompanied children
  • Trafficked children
  • Separated and vulnerable children
  • Child victims of exploitation, abuse and neglect
  • Children in need of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS)
 
Ukraine Response

Intervention Areas

  1. Expand the operation of the child helplines in Ukraine, and surrounding countries to support children and young people affected by the Ukrainian conflict.
  2. Learning opportunities are developed for the staff of child helplines to familiarise with (but not limited to) humanitarian principles, child sexual exploitation and abuse, children on the move, gender-based violence in emergencies, child trafficking, cross boarder collaboration, education in emergencies and MHPSS in the emergency context.
  3. Conduct joint awareness raising actions in Europe to promote the harmonised 116111 number as a child protection and support tool for children and young people during crisis among partners and policymakers.
  4. Maintain efficient and accurate mechanism for data collection for evidence-based advocacy and reporting, including PSEA reporting.

The Team

Gerard de Kort
Coordinator

Eva Veldhuizen-Ochodničanová
CP/GBV Expert

Anastasia Shuster
Data & Research Officer

Arista Kusumastuti
Communications Officer

Kasia Smolinska
Operations Officer

The Partner

UNICEF
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