26.02.2022 - Press releases

The stress of children in Ukraine

The escalation of hostilities in Ukraine is affecting the civilian population and children who have been under great stress for years. The Swiss child relief organisation Terre des hommes is deeply concerned about the situation.

Terre des hommes (Tdh) is present in Ukraine, with an office in Kyiv, a second one in Mariupol and a third one in Severodonetsk, about 20 km from the front line. Last year, we supported 5,000 inhabitants of Donbass, the majority of whom were children. We have been working with the population since 2015, particularly in the psychosocial support of children made vulnerable by years of tension. Since the recent escalation of hostilities, we are very concerned about their safety, well-being and integrity, both physical and mental.

"Families in Donbass are under unimaginable stress. Children already needed psychosocial support to cope with their daily lives.  Now their situation is getting dramatically worse. Since the intensification of the bombing, they fear for their lives, those of their parents and those of their relatives. On the run or in shelters, some have not slept for days. They do not know if they will see their homes again. What these children are going through today is terrible. We are extremely worried", says Barbara Hintermann, Executive Director of Tdh in Lausanne.

We call on all parties to the conflict to avoid all forms of violence and to protect the civilian population, in particular children, and to preserve access to basic services such as health, drinking water and food. Families forced to leave their homes must be allowed by all parties to seek refuge and support to meet their protection needs.

We remind all parties that, under international humanitarian law, any attack must be proportionate and all necessary precautions must be taken to avoid civilian casualties. Tdh reaffirms that the rights of every child must be respected and their protection ensured, regardless of their origin.