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S&Ds: Ukraine war means 7.5 million children desperately need our help


05 Apr 2022


Europe's East

At the request of the Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament is today highlighting the urgent need to protect children fleeing the war against Ukraine. Over 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine and half are children. There are also 2.5 million children displaced within Ukraine. Each and every child in Ukraine is suffering from the instability and uncertainty inflicted by Russia’s attack. The S&D Group is calling for a determined response from the Commission and the Council through an EU-Ukraine Child Protection Package that includes wide-ranging steps to protect vulnerable children fleeing war, both in the EU and in Ukraine. On Thursday, MEPs will vote on a package of measures outlining how the EU should respond to the specific needs of children in this war.

Iratxe García, president of the S&D Group:

“No child, no girl should ever know war. There are already seven and a half million children living in Ukraine whose lives have been shaken overnight. Some are living in hiding trying to protect themselves from bombs and without food, while others have fled leaving behind their lives and often also their relatives, their fathers or grandparents. The EU can and must help with a package of measures to protect children. I call on the Council and the Commission to urgently come forward with a coordinated proposal with the Ukrainian government.  Emergency aid is urgently needed to ensure shelter, clean water, food and hygiene products for these children and their families. But let us not forget that they are children, and that they also need places to play, to continue their education and access to psycho-social help from public services.  We must insist on humanitarian corridors and ensure those trying to flee are not brutally murdered.”

Heléne Fritzon, S&D vice-president for children’s rights, said:

“According to the UN, one child becomes a refugee in Ukraine almost every second. Child refugees need to be treated first and foremost as children, no matter their background or where they come from. The European Child Guarantee, that guarantees children in need free access to key services like early education, care and adequate housing, should apply to all children in the Union including refugees. Children fleeing Ukraine are at heightened risk of abuse, child trafficking and exploitation and we must prioritise strong preventive measures to prevent these crimes. We are insisting on closer cooperation between governments, international bodies and NGOs to ensure that children receive the protection, stability and support they need and have the right to.”  

Gaby Bischoff, S&D vice-president for migration and asylum, said:

“Since the outbreak of the war, I have seen first-hand the crucial role that local communities and civil society organisations have played as a point of first contact welcoming and accommodating millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine. We urge the Commission to find ways to ensure local authorities and NGOs have direct access to EU funding where Member State intervention is absent. However, the compassionate response of so many citizens and NGOs alone cannot give refugees, the overwhelming majority women and children, the full support they need. Member states must step up and oversee the reception and integration of refugees into our societies, by supporting children and unaccompanied minors in particular. Concrete actions have to follow compassionate words. Member states must follow up their expressions of solidarity with measures to promote the safe and fast relocation of children and their families to other EU countries”