Washington, DC—As the conflict in Ukraine enters its second year, over eight million people have sought safety in Europe. About three million of this number are children, tens of thousands of whom are unaccompanied or separated from their families. These children are increasingly vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation, and long-term family separation. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) has been expanding our work in Europe to address the changing needs of these children and their caregivers, recognizing that the humanitarian response must now evolve from addressing children’s immediate needs to more medium- and long-term support.
“We are at a critical juncture in the humanitarian response to the conflict in Ukraine,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “Europe took a vital step at the start of the crisis by providing temporary protection and essential services to Ukrainians including unaccompanied and separated children, but we now must move to a new phase to address the longer-term needs of the displaced, including their growing vulnerability, particularly of children, and the legal complexities of seeking more long-lasting protection. We must also not overlook the protection needs and rights of migrant children from Ukraine, who are not Ukrainian or may be stateless. Their needs and rights are no less important.”
KIND’s growing work helping unaccompanied and separated children access legal assistance in Europe, includes opening the organization’s first office on the continent. KIND’s Europe office is collaborating with our partners and adapting our work to ensure the organization can best support the needs of unaccompanied and separated children who fled Ukraine. We have also established new partnerships in Poland, Slovakia, and Italy. This work, which centers on the needs we have identified since KIND began work in Europe in 2015 and especially throughout the last year, includes:
- Ensuring KIND’s work across Europe provides protection for unaccompanied children from Ukraine and beyond fleeing their homeland in search of safety.
- Advocating that EU Member States strengthen protection for all unaccompanied and separated children in Europe and create an integrated child protection system.
- Creating child-friendly legal information tools with the pro bono legal community in Europe.
- Leveraging our existing network to support the provision of legal information and assistance for children and their caregivers in Poland and Italy – a critical gap that must be filled to enable them to access protection opportunities they may have now and in the future.
- Developing a counter-trafficking initiative in Slovakia to train law enforcement, child welfare, and nongovernmental organizations to respond to cases involving human trafficking and to build trust and working relationships among these actors and share expertise.
- Working with a mental health expert organization to develop video resources with the Ukrainian community to address mental health needs and provide supportive tools and resources.
“Working with our partners in Europe to provide services, strengthen systems and capacity, and engage in strategic advocacy, KIND strives to protect the rights and well-being of all children seeking safety in Europe. For as long as this conflict endures, we will be there to support the needs of all migrant children, who were forced to flee Ukraine” said KIND President Wendy Young.
Read more about how KIND is addressing the needs of children who fled Ukraine here.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990