Image (above): Ukrainian refugees crossing the border into Romania at Siret. Freezing temperatures and snow have hit the region in the last few days, making the refugees’ journey even harder.
As the war in Ukraine intensifies, many people want to do something – anything – to help. By donating to our work in Ukraine, Moldova and Romania, you’ll be protecting children and families both now and in the aftermath of this war. Here are 4 ways that your support will make a difference.
The invasion of Ukraine is a crisis on many fronts. As well as the violence and bloodshed being endured by those within the country, thousands of people have already fled across the border. Already, families have been separated in the chaos, and children are travelling, unaccompanied, into foreign countries.
We are deeply concerned for the 100,000 children warehoused in Ukraine’s orphanage system. Orphanage buildings are already being targeted by shells, missiles and illegal cluster bombs. As fighting intensifies, the staff in these institutions are fleeing. Large numbers of children are being left to face the dangers of war, alone.
This brutal invasion is not only exposing children and families to unimaginable harm right now, but will continue to do so for years to come. We must act now to avert a child protection emergency across Eastern Europe.
By supporting our work across Ukraine, Moldova and Romania you can help protect children and families right now and in the aftermath of this war.
Here are 4 ways your donation will help:
1: Supporting our team in Ukraine
We have staff in Lviv, Kyiv and Dnipro.
Our teams in Lviv, Kyiv and Dnipro are providing practical, life-saving support for to thousands of vulnerable children, parents and carers. Through cash transfers and direct interventions we’ve helped families access food, water, and protection.
In Kyiv, we’re providing emergency provisions for children and parents living with disability and unable to secure essential provisions. We anticipate reaching 1,000 families (approximately 3,000 people) in the coming weeks.
In Dnipro, we’ve organised the evacuation of 63 vulnerable children, carers and their families to Iasi, Romania. This includes one child with special needs, and 7 babies. Our evacuation has ensured continuity of care for children – and is what we expect for all children.
Working with the local authorities, we remain committed to protecting these children, for as long as it takes. With the support we have received through our fundraising appeal, we plan to scale our emergency support for up to 14,000 vulnerable children, parents and carers in Ukraine.
2. Supporting our emergency response in neighbouring countries
As of 28 March 2022 we have seen over 3.9 million refugees cross the border out of Ukraine, with more than 6m displaced internally. Many of these are unaccompanied children.
In Moldova, we’ve been called on by the ministry of social protection to directly support unaccompanied children with material and emotional support. As part of a cross-organisational humanitarian effort coordinated by Unicef, we are supporting unaccompanied children and refugee families at Blue Dot emergency reception facility on the border. This work requires our team of social workers, child psychologists and admissions staff to provide round the clock care to unaccompanied children and refugee families at risk of trafficking, exploitation and other dangers. We’ve also made plans to provide up to 9,000 vulnerable children, parents and carers in Moldova, with psychological support at eight government approved emergency reception centres, alongside developing and equipping additional support services including safe spaces for mothers and babies and play environments for young children.
In Romania we’re working with UNICEF and other partners to support the emergency relief effort, as mothers, children, young people and the elderly cross the border through Sighetu Marmatiei. Alongside the provision of vitally needed essentials including sleeping bags, blankets, food and medicines we’re focusing on identifying and supporting unaccompanied children who have suffered long term institutionalisation and who are at greatest risk of exploitation and abuse.
We are also making direct interventions to support refugees and partner organisations. For example, a partner of Hope and Homes for Children Romania in Sibiu County asked for support in terms of hygiene products and baby items, as well as clothing items and toys for three groups of Ukrainian refugees that are housed in three locations belonging to the Pentecostal church (28 children in one location, 31 children in the second one and 33 children in the third one). They are accompanied by their parents and/or relatives and arrived here at the end of March.
Our Romanian colleagues anticipate an increase in traffic at secondary (i.e. Moldovan-Romanian) border points, e.g. Iași, as more people arrive from Ukraine via Moldova. As witnessed at the customs in Sighetu, more refugees now arriving are coming on foot, with plastic bags. Colleagues in both Romania and Moldova anticipate a second wave of arrivals who will need a lot more humanitarian assistance.
We’re using our expertise to make sure border crossings are as safe as they can be for vulnerable children and young people and to advocate for the safe reunification of families as soon as possible and where this is not possible, for emergency foster and family type care for children.
3. Maintaining our existing programmes
As we urgently work to meet the immediate needs of the refugee crisis, our already limited resources are being stretched. In some cases, our teams of social workers and child psychologists are leaving their own children and families to travel hundreds of kilometres from their homes so they can set up close to the border and provide desperately needed physical, emotional and psycho-social support.
However, many of the children and families in our existing programmes rely on these child protection experts for support. Before the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, we were already providing emergency interventions for children and support for families at risk of separation. All of these children and families still need our help – and we cannot turn our backs on them.
Maintaining our existing programmes will also be vital in the aftermath of this war. Our organisation was born out of the Balkans Conflict 30 years ago – and we’ve seen the long-term effects of war on children and families. Our work will not be finished, even when news of this conflict has died down.
4. Supporting our global advocacy work
In addition to our work on the ground, we are also fighting to raise the profile of children and families with so that they are placed at the centre of the humanitarian response – including with the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and G7 countries (especially the UK Government).
Funding and humanitarian assistance will be needed at significant scale to support the protection of the children living in the 700 institutions across Ukraine.
In support of this we have:
- Written to UN OCHA to ask for their help to ensure orphanages and other residential care facilities hosting children and families are recognised and signaled as protected humanitarian spaces in the course of the conflict.
- We’re calling on governments in neighbouring countries to support refugees fleeing over the border. Families must be kept together at all costs. We must keep displaced children traveling alone out of orphanages – instead prioritising emergency foster care and family reunification.
- We have put together a set of advocacy messages on the reception and protection of refugee, unaccompanied and separated children from Ukraine coming into neighbour countries. These messages are being used by our teams in Romania and Moldova as well as at EU level to advocate for children to be reunited with families or supported through temporary foster and family like care.
- Finally, we are coordinating with other global agencies that have a presence in Ukraine to share updates on the situation on the ground, connect our Ukraine colleagues, and assess possible joint advocacy actions on children in institutions.
We are a small organisation with limited resources, but we’re uniquely placed in Ukraine, Moldova and Romania to ensure those resources, skills and expertise protect children and families right now, and in the aftermath of this war.
In the event that funds raised exceed what is needed to deliver Hope and Homes for Children immediate and longer-term response to this crisis, we will use donations where the need is greatest.