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.
June 2022 – May 2023
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