“Children of War: The Ukrainian Case”, Isabella Martin (ICDS, Estonia)

The war in Ukraine has imposed considerable physical, mental, and emotional damage on children. It is critical to provide mental health and psychosocial support (MPHSS), as well as to reinforce psychological and social infrastructure—in Ukraine and countries hosting refugees—to help them cope with the immediate trauma of war and promote resilience for future reconstruction efforts.

Severe damage to civilian infrastructure has left many children without access to schools, healthcare resources, and support networks within care facilities, while those who have fled Ukraine risk falling victim to human trafficking and exploitation. Moreover, children are targets of the Kremlin’s efforts to erase the Ukrainian identity, brutally executed through oppressive policies such as forced school curriculum in the occupied territories and atrocious practice of ’filtration’, with children separated, abducted, and then put up for adoption in Russia.

Inside and outside of the country, Ukraine’s youth are left extremely vulnerable to abuse, with the consequences to their mental health to last for generations—and to affect the nation’s post-war recovery—if not taken care of already today. Without developing proper coping mechanisms in children and adolescents now, the trauma imposed on the young generation will hinder rebuilding efforts and undermine societal institutions. It is thus imperative to support MHPSS initiatives and contribute to a resilient society in post-war Ukraine.

Read more here.