With the total number of Ukrainian refugees surpassing four million today, international aid agency, World Vision, is calling for greater focus on essential services for vulnerable refugee children, including child protection, education and mental health support.
“To put that staggering figure of four million refugees into perspective; that’s about 82 refugees, or about two busloads of refugees every minute, who have fled for their lives since this crisis began,” says Isabel Gomes, World Vision’s Ukraine Response Director. “Most are women and children, who are increasingly arriving with little more than the clothes on their backs and a few essential belongings. This leaves them incredibly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. The need for protection and other services will continue to grow as this crisis deepens and becomes more protracted.”
Despite high levels of funding relative to other crises like Syria or Afghanistan, which must not be forgotten, according to the UN’s Ukraine Flash Appeal, a number of basic services for Ukrainian refugees continues to be critically underfunded compared to other areas of refugee support, including protection (19 percent funded), education (eight percent funded) and health and nutrition (four percent funded).
Ukrainian host countries such as Moldova have struggled to meet the basic needs of Ukrainian refugees. Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest nations and also has the highest per capita refugee population in the region. World Vision is especially concerned about children losing access education. Nearly 90 percent of refugees in Moldova are women and children, with 97 percent of refugee children still out of school.
“On top of the four million people forced to leave Ukraine, at least 6.5 million have also fled their homes and are displaced within the country. After two years of COVID-19 lockdowns already, the impact that this crisis will have on children’s wellbeing, mental health and education is frightening,” says Gomes.
“No child should be forced out of school because of conflict. We know school provides a sense of normalcy that children caught up in conflict desperately need, in addition to offering them a safe space and protecting their futures. As the response moves into its second month, we’re focused on working with the authorities to help get children back into school.”
World Vision has been working in Ukraine and Romania since the first week of the crisis and is quickly scaling up its work to support children and their families with basic essentials and other critical services with the goal of reaching nearly 300,000 people in Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia within the next few months.
About World Vision
World Vision is a relief, development and advocacy organization working to create lasting change in the lives of children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by Christian values, World Vision is dedicated to working with the world’s most vulnerable people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, visit worldvision.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.