Washington, DC—Today, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and the Brussels-based Child Circle issued a briefing note featuring recommendations on critical areas of action to strengthen safeguards for unaccompanied children fleeing Ukraine into the European Union (EU). An estimated 1.8 million children have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country one month ago. The conflict has primarily forced the displacement of children and women; a number of these children are without caregivers. Children alone have little or no protection from human traffickers and others who seek to harm and exploit them. This report, Note on Unaccompanied Children Fleeing from Ukraine, aims to assist the EU to strengthen its child protection system and ability to respond to the dire risks these children face.
“Children are particularly vulnerable in situations of conflict and forced displacement, when human traffickers and other nefarious groups take advantage of the chaos and instability to inflict further harm on children, especially those who have become separated from their caregivers. These kids need immediate, urgent protection. This report sets out the key principles that should guide stakeholders in working together,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “The EU and receiving countries have shown extraordinary compassion for Ukrainian refugees in the remarkable outpouring of assistance they have provided. To best serve these children, the EU should promote and strengthen measures that underpin integrated child protection systems and facilitate solidarity, including transfers from one EU country to another, when reception capacity becomes overwhelmed.”
The report is a resource for the broad spectrum of stakeholders who are working together under a common EU framework to ensure comprehensive procedural safeguards are in place to address the range of needs of children who fled Ukraine alone or who have become separated during their flight. It describes the different circumstances of unaccompanied children and the issues that they are facing when they seek protection abroad. These challenges include identification, registration, and guardianship as well as protection from traffickers and support to secure durable solutions, and must be addressed by strengthening both national coordination and EU solidarity.
KIND is traveling in the region now to assess the situation and is witnessing these challenges first-hand. “Every day, children are crossing borders alone and remain in immense danger,” Young added. “The steps we take to protect them should be immediate and built on past experience drawn from other humanitarian crises and interventions. The fate of thousands of children is at stake.”
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