Washington, DC–More than eight million people from Ukraine have sought safety in Europe since the conflict escalated one year ago. About three million of this number are children, many of whom are unaccompanied or separated from their families. These children will become increasingly vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation, and long-term family separation as their displacement persists. In addition, it is likely that more children fleeing from Ukraine will seek safety in other parts of Europe in the coming months.
While the EU and its Member States acted admirably by swiftly welcoming millions of refugees from Ukraine and providing temporary protection and essential services, as the conflict continues, these provisional and immediate humanitarian responses need to make way for more medium- to long-term efforts. New legal needs will arise, and these children will require assistance navigating changing frameworks and procedures to access comprehensive and secure solutions.
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Child Circle urge the EU and its Member States to continue working together to meet both the legal and practical challenges of this ongoing migration crisis. It remains critical that displaced children from Ukraine and their guardians receive child-friendly information and legal assistance as measures taken on their behalf now will shape the opportunities for protection they may have in the future.
KIND and Child Circle have partnered since 2019 to strengthen safeguards for unaccompanied and separated children in Europe, provide guiding principles and practical avenues for action, and support for sustainable solutions. Together, the organizations aim to serve the efforts of the many stakeholders who are working together under a common EU framework of measures, by providing an overview of key issues to consider to access protection and safety.
We will take our learnings to date from the Ukraine crisis to improve our response and advocate for all unaccompanied and separated children arriving in Europe seeking safety.
How KIND and Child Circle are Assisting Children from Ukraine
KIND is expanding and adapting its work in Europe to address the changing needs of children from Ukraine. KIND is leveraging its existing network of partners and lawyers across Europe to provide legal information and assistance to children and their caregivers in Poland and Italy. In Slovakia, KIND partnered with the Human Rights League and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Italy’s Human Trafficking program to develop a counter-trafficking initiative. Recognizing the need to increase capacity to handle cases of unaccompanied and separated children, KIND has been engaging in ongoing training on child protection and human trafficking for actors working with these children. Collaborating with a specialist mental health nongovernmental organization, KIND is developing video resources with the Ukrainian community to address mental health needs and provide supportive tools and resources. KIND has also been creating child-friendly legal information tools with the pro bono legal community, including Amazon and DLA Piper.
Child Circle and UNICEF’s Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECARO) are collaborating on an in-depth analysis of the legal challenges that arise under international and European law when responding to the situation of unaccompanied and separated children displaced from Ukraine, as well as children evacuated from alternative care in Ukraine. The study will be accompanied by recommendations for meeting these challenges.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990