UNICEF highlights devastating mental health risks for Ukrainian children – Global issues

“We predict the numbers about all forms of violence against children inevitably amount to tens of thousands,” said Aaron Greenberg, UNICEFRegional Child Protection Advisor for Europe and Central Asia.

Light of thousands

Before February 24, Ukraine’s orphanages, boarding schools and other educational institutions for young people raised more than 91,000 children, about half of whom were disabled.

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

“BILLIONThe impact of war on these children is particularly devastating,” Mr. Greenberg said, speaking to journalists in Geneva via Zoom from Lviv. “Tens of thousands of children living in facilities or foster care facilities were returned to their families, many of them in haste, when the war began. Many people did not receive the care and protection they asked for, especially children with disabilities. ”

‘Increase again’

Condemning the fact that hundreds of young people have been killed in shelling attacks, the UN agency warns that others have suffered serious mental health trauma related to “direct experience” of violenceboth physically and sexually.

While stressing that many children “would go back” if they could go back to school and start to see some form of “normalization” in their lives, Mr Greenberg stressed that it was more important than ever. Now is the time to make sure that Ukraine’s social service workforce is secure. and encouraged to stay and help.

He also notes that “a smaller, but important number “will probably develop post-traumatic stress disorder.” two to four months after their injury.

He continued: “Since February 24, UNICEF and our partners have reached over 140,000 children and their caregivers with mental health and psychosocial services. “But the majority of that, 95%, is direct engagement with children and trained psychologists.”

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

© UNICEF / Slava Ratynski

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

Mounting problem

The UN agency’s priorities include expanding investment in local NGO mental health providers to help children still in care, supporting government policy. Ukrainian government.

But finding enough professionals to help is not easy, “like Social workers, child psychologists and other professionals are equally affected by this conflict,” continued Mr. Greenberg.

“If you start doing the math, there are children who are still in non-evacuated facilities both at home and abroad, and there are children in foster care families with temporary interruptions, and there are children are in custodial placement, a significant number, so when you put this in place, the number of children in need of help, who were vulnerable to the crisis and presently vulnerable situations. injury has been increased, is very high. “

Across Ukraine, UNICEF has deployed 56 mobile units to provide specialized medical services to traumatized children. Mr. Greenberg said there are also 12 “specialized violent mobile teams in the east” where the fighting is ongoing. “To date, mobile teams in the east have worked with 7,000 cases of women and children to answer specific questions regarding the violence and reports that the mobile team will then follow up on. .”

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