Ukrainian refugee women and children

Ukraine: Displacement risks children’s futures

World Vision Romania is helping children deal with their grief and loss

Over 5 million people have fled Ukraine in the last two weeks. Many of them are children.

Suddenly separated from family members – who are staying to fight – they have escaped bombing and destruction. But displaced children now face freezing weather, hunger, fears for their family and their future.

As Disasters Emergencies Committee (DEC) members, World Vision is supporting our colleagues and partners in Romania to welcome refugees with physical and emotional support.

Provisions include food, medical care, hygiene kits, including soap and toothpaste, and child-friendly kits with recreational activities and information on staying safe.

World Vision is also committed to addressing the psychological impact faced by refugees.

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How children’s lives are being disrupted by the conflict in Ukraine

Children from Ukraine are arriving in Romania, and other countries, devastated. Exhausted from the journey and the wait at the border, they are cold, hungry and scared. They have left everything behind: their homes, their toys, their friends, their schools. They will now be missing out on education. But worse than that is the ever-present question: are their fathers and other family members still alive, or dead?

Aimyleen Gabriel, Senior Child Protection Programme Adviser with World Vision UK, says that there are even more worries. “What is equally concerning is the child protection threat for children who are separated or unaccompanied - they are at elevated risk of abuse, exploitation and trafficking.”

World Vision Romania National Director Mihaela Nabar is at the Siret border with Ukraine. She says, “The children are crying. They are scared. The risk of trafficking is huge.”

World Vision is offering support to Ukrainian refugees

Along with basic supplies, World Vision Romania will, in coordination with the Ministry of Education, offer educational activities for children and look at setting up transitional educational classes tailored to the children’s needs. 

They will also offer Child Friendly Spaces. These offer a safe place where children can be themselves, be cared for and where they can start to heal after experiencing a stressful or traumatic event. As they have left their homes and all they know, including schools and education, children at the Child Friendly Spaces will be able to draw, play, read and learn.

This is not a new concept. World Vision has decades of experience helping children deal with the many challenges that they face in the midst of an emergency.

Events such as natural disasters, the loss of parents, or being forced to leave everything behind because of war, can cause immense stress on a child’s mental wellbeing.

In such circumstances, it’s important to help children connect with their emotions and understand how they feel at different times. And it’s vital they can express these feelings to help the adults around them support them.

World Vision’s Child Friendly Spaces become a haven for children, giving them opportunities to leave their worries behind and become children again, to play, draw and create.

They are also given ways to explore their feelings through games and exercises which will help their mental wellbeing, and strengthen their ability to cope with life in the future.

This ‘emotional learning’ helps children in these ways:

  • Enable children to acknowledge and name their feelings.
  • Help children to understand that everyone has different kinds of feelings, and that emotions are neither good nor bad.
  • Recognise other people’s emotions.
  • Strengthen children’s ability to help themselves to feel better when they are upset, sad or angry.
  • To realise that everyone can choose to respond in healthy and respectful ways to their feelings.

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