Working together to safeguard Ukrainian children affected by war

It is heartbreaking to see how children continue to be affected by the war in Ukraine.

After one month of the conflict, half of the country’s child population has been displaced, UNICEF said last week.

This estimated 4.3 million children includes more than 1.8 million children who have crossed into neighbouring countries as refugees, and 2.5 million who are now internally displaced inside Ukraine.

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell says, “Children’s safety, wellbeing and access to essential services are all under threat from non-stop horrific violence.”

A number of Christian agencies that are responding directly on the ground are reaching out to Viva about how we can partner with them in sharing our best practice in safeguarding, and in equipping churches who are responding to the needs of Ukrainian children and families.

During the past fortnight, Kezia M’Clelland, Viva’s Children in Emergencies Specialist, has had initial conversations with:

  • An anti-trafficking and anti-exploitation network about the possibility of Viva hosting a Children in Emergencies webinar in the next month so that churches in Europe better understand the key issues for child refugees.
  • A charity that supports church leaders within Ukraine and surrounding countries about the possibility of Viva adapting scripts and resources from our Covid response phone mentoring programme. This would create conversation guides for people in churches who are offering trauma support to Ukrainian families.
  • A global charity, and regional federation that represent thousands of churches in Europe, about the possibility of Viva providing input and training into safeguarding awareness and good practice in churches that are hosting refugees from Ukraine.

There are several other Christian partnerships, working together on Ukraine refugee response programmes, who are interested in Viva being involved in some way. They recognise our past experience of Children in Emergency situations in the Middle East and Asia, and the resources we have produced, and can adapt for this purpose. Our online resource page contains a basic safeguarding guidelines document.

We are greatly encouraged by each conversation we have had, and how each person and organisation is open to working together to have the best outcome for children.

Please join with us in praying for:

  • Children within Ukraine and for those who have fled – for safety and protection, and that children would not become separated from parents or caregivers or become victims of exploitation and trafficking.
  • Churches in countries such as Poland, Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Slovakia, who are playing a key part in responding to Ukrainian refugees – to be equipped, resourced and encouraged.
  • Viva to have opportunities to offer expertise and support in the most useful way possible, partnering with other Christian agencies to work together to keep children safe.