Orphans and sick children of Zaporozhye, Ukraine
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Ukraine's 'Forgotten Children': Ukrainian orphanages struggle to care for those displaced by war

Shortfall in state funding leaves orphanages reliant on generosity of volunteers

Author: uatoday.tv, uatoday.tv/society Published: 2015-11-04 18-50-00 Viewed, times: 804
  
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Most of the children at this orphanage have seen the war in east Ukraine first hand and are now living in the aftermath. One of the highlights of their day includes a visit from soldiers who are bringing supplies.

The boxes are packed to the brim with apples, and the bags are filled with potatoes.

The orphanage depends on volunteer initiatives like this one to provide nearly 60% of its food supply. It's also overcrowded; it houses over 130 children even though its maximum capacity is 80.

Because of a lack of state funds the staff tells us the children won't see meat or fish for months at a time. Some say these children have been forgotten by the government.

Lyudmila Lazarenko, Orphanage Center Director: "We have the right to buy products for a special price but because there's a war the prices change and we have to apply for documents and sometimes they aren't signed on time. Sometimes we don't even have vegetables."

The problems orphans are facing are nothing new in Ukraine. Nearly 95,000 children of the country's eight million have been either been abandoned or cast adrift. Some of these children have seen their parents die before their eyes after shelling hit their towns.

Lyudmila Lazarenko, Orphanage Center Director: "There's a mother here who rents a small space, works as a cleaner somewhere, and comes to see her baby here. There is a chance she may get some sort of housing. We also know this mother who left her older son and then later her younger son with us."

Some parents have been left with nothing as a result of the 18-month old conflict in Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed militants. They have no choice but to hand over their children to centers like this one.

Vadym Holovkov, 10-year-old: "They were shooting there a lot and we had to leave, we weren't hit but the village beside ours was, there were a lot of people who were shot."

Apart from being underfunded, orphanages in Ukraine have a troubling reputation. According to a three year investigation by NGO Disability Rights International children in care homes are at risk of being trafficked for sex and labour. And these problems have only been amplified by war.

The UN has a significant number of programmes underway in Ukraine delivering medicine, food, blankets and food to those in need. But its local initiatives like this one which are doing much of the work needed to rebuild the lives of children displaced and orphaned by the war in eastern Ukraine.






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