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Ukraine Searches for Thousands of ‘Orphans’ Separated by War

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

The months-long war between Russia and Ukraine has scattered thousands of children within Ukraine’s orphanage system. Ukraine dismissed nearly 100,000 children from institutional care when war broke out in February. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is still trying to reach 26,000 children who were not moved within the orphanage system but returned to their families (Slobin, 2022). The United Nations worries that the lack of record keeping will put orphaned children at risk of human trafficking, violence, and exploitation (Walters, 2022). Children in the orphanage system within Ukraine are there because their parents could not care for them properly due to disability. The Odesa Orphanage-Boarding School was forced to move residents after the Ukrainian government ordered an evacuation. The children in the orphanage traveled to a different institution far from the fighting, but for 40 days, they did not appear in Ukraine’s national database (Slobin, 2022). Despite the difficulty of tracking people running from an invasion, several children’s rights specialists, child protection organizations, and government officials have been contacted. 

Ukraine’s National Social Service (NSS) oversees children’s rights and protections. Support for families offered by specialized social services is working to resolve problems. UNICEF has labeled children returned to families after being in 24-hour care as vulnerable and prioritized monitoring them.​​ Daria Herasymchuk, Ukraine’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, notes that tracking children within the orphanage system needs to be improved. Issues have come up in keeping records of children who left Ukraine with foster families or guardians during the first ten days of the war (Slobin, 2022). Reports show that more than 3.7 million Ukrainians, including 600,000 children, have gone to Russia or Russian-controlled separatist areas in Ukraine (“UN says ‘credible’ reports Ukraine children transferred to Russia”). The number of children not being counted for and moved to Russia is alarming; hopefully, things will improve before they get worse.

Works Cited

Al Jazeera. “Un Says ‘Credible’ Reports Ukraine Children Transferred to Russia.” 

Russia-Ukraine War News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 8 Sept. 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/9/8/un-says-credible-reports-ukraine-children-transferred-to-russia#:~:text=He%20said%20more%20than%203.7,t%20being%20kept%20in%20prisons%E2%80%9D.

Slobin, Sarah. “Emptying Ukraine’s Orphanages.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 12 Sept. 2022, 


Walters, Joanna. “Ukraine Claims Russian Military Command Has Stopped Sending 

New Units into Country – as It Happened.” The Guardian, Guardian News, and Media, 12 Sept. 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2022/sep/12/russia-ukraine-war-zelenskiy-accuses-kremlin-of-terrorist-attacks-on-kharkiv-power-supply-live-updates. 

Sabrina Seldon is the Editor-in-chief of Her Campus at MSU. She edits articles, approves pitches and oversees the editing team. Seldon is a junior at Michigan State University majoring in Journalism with minors in Broadcast, Public Relations and Graphic Design. On top of her involvement with Her Campus, she is the Art Director of VIM Magazine at MSU. Seldon was Editor-in-chief of her high school's award-winning yearbook and has articles published through the Spartan Newsroom. Seldon enjoys listening to music, traveling and designing graphics in her free time.