27 February 2021

Actress Olga Kurylenko urges Ukraine not to scrap plans to free 100,000 children from orphanages

Our Ukraine-born Global Ambassador is calling on the eastern European country to stop locking up children and remain committed to it plans to shut down 700 state-run orphanages by 2026.

 

Olga Kurylenko visiting our work in Ukraine in 2010 © Marie Claire

Olga Kurylenko visiting our work in Ukraine in 2010 © Marie Claire

 

Last year the Government of Ukraine was supposed to start moving 100,000 children out of orphanages and into families; equivalent to rehoming the populations of Monaco, San Marino and Liechtenstein combined. It followed research showing how 92% of them had a living parent, and all had extended family.

Ukraine’s plans to become orphanage-free now lay in tatters, however, after Cabinet Ministers proposed to continue locking up vulnerable children under the age of three. They have also announced that 50,000 disabled children are now set to remain warehoused in its Soviet-style institutions indefinitely.

 

“Cabinet Ministers proposed to continue locking up vulnerable children under the age of three. They have also announced that 50,000 disabled children are now set to remain warehoused in its Soviet-style institutions indefinitely”

 

Olga, star of numerous critically acclaimed movies, including Bond film Quantum of Solace, has joined Hope and Homes for Children in voicing her concerns over Ukraine’s policy about-turn to eliminate the world’s biggest orphanage network.

“I’ve seen with my own eyes the shocking and loveless conditions children needlessly face in Ukraine’s orphanages,” said Olga, who visited our projects in 2010.

“If Ukraine backtracks on its promise to scrap these orphanages, thousands of forgotten babies and disabled children will suffer abuse and neglect while locked up.”

 

“‘I’ve seen with my own eyes the shocking and loveless conditions children needlessly face in Ukraine’s orphanages,’ said Olga”

 

Vulnerable children in Ukraine are often misdiagnosed with medical conditions and prevented from attending mainstream schools. Parents are then coerced into sending them to orphanages, far away from their families.

 

Olga Kurylenko and her mother Maryna visit Ukraine in 2010 © Marie Claire

Olga Kurylenko, and her mother Maryna, visit our work in Ukraine in 2010 © Marie Claire

 

Hope and Homes for Children’s Behind the Mask of Care study revealed how 86% of babies in one Ukrainian orphanage were misdiagnosed, and could have been cared for at home. A lack of one-on-one care caused 90 per cent of the children to suffer developmental disorders while locked up.

Another report by Disability Rights International shows how disabled children living in Ukrainian institutions face forced labour, routine beatings, sexual abuse, forced abortions, drugging, shackling, exposure to brothels operating from orphanage basements and trafficking for illegal organ transplants.

Olga added “As a child I was one of the lucky ones, but sadly so many less fortunate families struggling with the pressures of single parenting, substance abuse, poverty and disabilities are coerced into putting their children into orphanages.”

 

“As a child I was one of the lucky ones, but sadly so many less fortunate families struggling with the pressures of single parenting, substance abuse, poverty and disabilities are coerced into putting their children into orphanages.”

 

Olga has joined our call on the European Union (EU) to put pressure on the Government of Ukraine to revive plans to dismantle its orphanage system, reintegrate children with families and develop alternative family care services.