UNICEF Highlights Devastating Mental Health Dangers for Children in Ukraine — Global Affairs

“We are anticipating numbers in terms of all forms of violence against children will be in the tens of thousands for sure,” he said. Aaron Greenberg, UNICEF Regional Child Protection Adviser for Europe and Central Asia.

Situation of thousands

Before February 24, Ukraine’s orphanages, boarding schools and other youth institutions housed more than 91,000 children, about half with disabilities.

Today, only about a third of that number have returned home, including evacuees from the east and south, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

“TThe impact of the war on these children has been particularly devastating.Mr. Greenberg said, speaking to reporters in Geneva via Zoom from Lviv. “Tens of thousands of children living in institutions or foster homes have been returned to their families, many of them hastily, when the war began. Many have not received the care and protection they require, especially children with disabilities.”


Condemning the fact that hundreds of young people have already been killed in artillery attacks, the UN agency warned that others had suffered Serious mental health trauma linked to “direct experience” of violenceboth physical and sexual.

While he insisted that many children “will recover” if they can go back to school and begin to see some sort of “normalization” in their lives, Greenberg insisted that it was more important than ever to ensure that Ukraine’s social services workforce was calm. and he encouraged to stay and help.

He also noted that “a smaller but significant number” would likely develop post-traumatic stress disorder two to four months after being traumatized.

“Since February 24, UNICEF and our partners have reached more than 140,000 children and their caregivers with mental health and psychosocial services,” he continued. “But the vast majority of that, 95 percent, are direct engagements with children and trained psychologists.”

© UNICEF/Slava Ratynski

In a shelter located in a sanatorium in Vorokhta, western Ukraine, local educators and specialists care for displaced children from orphanages in the Kharkiv region.

problems increase

Priorities for the UN agency include increasing investments in local NGO mental health providers to help young people still in care, in support of Ukrainian government policy.

But it is not easy to find enough professionals to help, “like social workers, child psychologists and other professionals are equally affected for this conflict,” continued Mr. Greenberg.

“If you start doing the math, there are children who remain in institutions who were not evacuated either internally or externally, and there are children in foster families whose payments were temporarily interrupted, and there are children in guardianship arrangements, a significant number, So when If you overlap this, the number of children in need who were vulnerable before the crisis, and whose vulnerabilities have now accelerated, is unbelievably high.”

Across Ukraine, UNICEF has deployed 56 mobile units to provide specialized health services to traumatized children. There are also 12 “mobile violence teams in the east” where fighting continues, Greenberg said. “To date, those mobile teams in the east have worked with 7,000 cases of women and children in terms of responding to specific queries related to violence and reports that are then followed up by the mobile team.”

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