Brussels 28 February 2022

As many others in the world, Missing Children Europe is deeply shocked and devastated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We stand in solidarity with all the people, children and organisations in the country.

“There are hard times in Ukraine” shared Marina Lypovetska, Head of Projects at NGO “Magnolia” and board member of Missing Children Europe, over the weekend. “Our 116 000 hotline can’t work, we don’t have distance access for its provision. Hotline consultants are hiding underground”.

Children are already bearing the consequences of the war. According to Kyiv Independent, 16 children have been killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war is putting thousands more children at risk of violence, trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, and going missing. They are at risk of getting separated from their families and exposed to considerable harm.

“Children in institutions and foster families are particularly vulnerable, with no possibilities to stay safe. The Ukrainian Government and NGOs are trying to organize evacuation for them, but there are no safe places in Ukraine, we are under attack from all sides” Marina Lypovetska added. “Across Ukraine, in different regions, Russia is shooting rockets, also on children’s institutions, where children are still confined inside.”

As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, mainly women and children, are on the move to seek refuge in neighbouring EU countries, children risk being separated from their families in the chaos. The 116000 hotlines in Poland and other neighbouring countries are preparing to support them in the best way they can, but much more needs to be done to protect children from harm and the risk of trafficking and exploitation at this time.

“The EU should act quickly to ensure children and families arriving into Europe have access to essential basic services, reception, health and social services. Coordinated and comprehensive measures are needed to prevent the physical and psychological harm children and families are facing.” – Aagje Ieven, Secretary General at Missing Children Europe

Missing Children Europe stands ready to support organisations, Member States and the EU to protect children in Ukraine and at the border.

Notes to Editors:

Missing Children Europe is the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children, representing 31 grassroots NGOs in 26 European countries. Missing Children Europe coordinates the network of missing children hotlines available through the 116 000 number. The hotline is currently active in 32 countries in Europe.

NGO “Magnolia” was founded in 2001 as a public initiative by a group of journalists who have allied to protect the rights of vulnerable children and families. Its mission is to advocate for discriminated and vulnerable groups in Ukraine. Among its activities is the operation of the 116 000 hotline for missing children. Since 2017, NGO “Magnolia” has been a member of Missing Children Europe.