Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Children’s rights

100 thousand “social orphans” in Ukraine


On 1 June the world marks International Children’s Day, one of the oldest international days, dating from 1950. Ukraine joined the official recognition of this day in 1999 with a Decree from the then President Leonid Kuchma.

An acute problem which the country faces is the rising number of orphans.

According to expert assessments, there are over 100 thousand orphans in Ukraine, most of whom are so called “social orphans”, i.e. children whose parents are alive.

Each year around six thousand children are left without parental care. Among these “social orphans” are children whose parents are working abroad.

According to unofficial statistics, in Italy alone between 300 thousand and one million Ukrainian women are working while their children remain in Ukraine. Experts warn year in year out of the social, economic and psychological problems such children face.

These days more and more is heard about street children. There is particular danger in the fact that orphans who have not been placed in a children’s home or have run away from it, easily fall victim to criminals, among them human traffickers.

Against this background the end of May saw the opening in Kyiv of the first Centre for the protection of street children “Our children”. At present it houses 80 children however the special thing about the refuge is that it was founded from donations made by Ukrainian, German and Polish businesspeople. The children may live there from the age of 3 to 18.

Despite the fact the Convention on the Rights of the Children came into force in Ukraine in 1991, observers note considerable problems in its implementation.

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