Lessons Learned Providing Support to Children Displaced from Ukraine

February 28, 2024

This month marks the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since the escalation of hostilities in 2022, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) has been working with partners in the region to help children fleeing the conflict, providing child-friendly information and legal assistance to children displaced from Ukraine as well as their families and guardians. As the conflict continues and children’s displacement becomes more protracted, there is still an urgent need for free, quality legal assistance, especially because many unaccompanied and separated children are grappling with complex legal matters. 


KIND and our partners’ experience assisting children with this need over the last two years and lessons learned will be described in an upcoming KIND report written in collaboration with our partners in Europe. Unaccompanied and separated children from Ukraine and children evacuated from alternative care continue to face grave risk of harm without legal assistance. The report also highlights how KIND’s pro bono model addresses significant gaps in the provision of information and legal assistance to children. 


In this report, KIND reaffirms its commitment to support children displaced from Ukraine and outlines plans for future joint action, including expanding our staff, partners, and programs in the region. We will continue to provide child-friendly information, free legal assistance, training, and capacity building as well as to advocate for stronger systems and child-centred procedures for all unaccompanied and separated children. 


To help support this work, we are delighted to welcome KIND’s new Director of Policy and Advocacy, Europe, Jyothi Kanics. Jyothi has more than two decades of experience advocating for the rights of migrants in vulnerable situations including separated children, trafficked persons, detained migrants, undocumented migrants, and stateless persons. Jyothi has previously collaborated with KIND as an Associate Member of our partner Child Circle where she contributed to earlier reports including our flagship publication, Advancing Protection for Unaccompanied Children in Europe by Strengthening Legal Assistance and the initial Briefing Note KIND and Child Circle prepared on Unaccompanied Children Fleeing from Ukraine.  


Reflecting on her new role at KIND, Jyothi said, “I am excited to be joining KIND as we are expanding our partnerships across Europe and bringing on board specialized lawyers in countries neighboring Ukraine. The good practices that we have identified, and our renewed commitment will not only help children displaced from Ukraine but will contribute to system strengthening to better protect all unaccompanied and separated children.” 


*Photo credit: A child looks at a soldier while waiting for further transport after crossing the Ukrainian border with Poland in Medyka, southeastern Poland on March 14, 2022. (Photo by Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP) (Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images)