The War in Ukraine is becoming more and more a War on children

                                                                                                                                     

Children are always paying the highest toll during crises and conflicts, both in terms of casualties and long-term consequences for their well-being. After more than 4 months of conflict shuttering all over Ukraine, this war is becoming more and more war on children.

According to the latest figures from UNICEF, there are over 5.2 million children in need of humanitarian assistance – three million children inside Ukraine and over 2.2 million children in refugee-hosting countries. Almost two out of every three children have been displaced by fighting. At least 262 children have been killed and 415 injured in attacks since 24 February.

MEPs Dragos Pislaru, Chair of the EMPL Committee, Catharina Rinzema, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights and Michaela Sojdrová held a high-level event “Grave human rights violations against children and young people during the Russian invasion to Ukraine” on 29 June in the European Parliament in Brussels on the

The event featured the keynote speech of Ms. Dubravka Suica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy & Demography, HE Maryna Lazebna, Ukrainian Minister for Social Affairs, HE Marie-Louise Coleiro-Preca, President of Eurochild and former President of Malta, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, President of Missing Children Europe, former MEP (2009 – 2019) and members of the civil society organizations coming from Ukraine.

We are now witnessing the commitment of flagrant human rights violations against children in Ukraine during the current Russian invasion. Children are victims of multiple forms of crimes, including sexual violence. We are now confronted with a number of Ukrainian children abducted and forcefully deported at the hands of Russian soldiers, whom are now nowhere to be found. This situation calls for an immediate action from the international community and we call on the EU institutions – and Member States alike – to do their utmost to identify the abducted children and ensure they are reunited with their family!” – said MEP Michaela Sojdrová.

This war has put a huge strain on civilian infrastructure on which children depend, as they continue to be damaged or destroyed by heavy Russian shelling and bombings. This contravenes all International treaties and International Humanitarian Law.

Children should never pay the consequences of adults’ choices and be used as a bargaining chip in such conflict. The life of millions of children is at stake in this conflict and we cannot allow these children to be victim of unspeakable atrocities. If we do not intervene now we risk to have a lost generation of children, whose life will be marked for years to come with wounds hard to heal. It is of paramount importance to ensure that children are safe at all times and everywhere. All Ukrainian children who safely made it to Europe, are now suffering from psychological trauma: more needs to be done at EU level to offer adequate psychological support to these children!”- said MEP Catharina Rinzema, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights.

This war is creating an acute child protection crisis and at the same time, a mass displacement that has shuttered livelihoods and economic opportunities, leaving many families without sufficient income to meet basic needs and unable to provide adequate support for their children.

As we brace now for what seems to be a long-term conflict, we need to put in place more long-term instruments to help our Ukrainian partners, now candidates for EU membership, cope with the conflict and provide Ukrainian children – both in Ukraine and those who are now in the EU soil – with a prompt access to adequate social services. Most of the children who left Ukraine find themselves now in our Union – with neighbouring countries hosting the highest number of refugees. It is essential Member States make full use of the European Child Guarantee to ensure Ukrainian children are treated on equal footing with their national peers. We cannot allow these children to miss out on important formative years of school and we must ensure they are fully integrated in our society.” concluded MEP Dragos Pislaru, Chair of the EMPL Committee and Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights.

 

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