The recent unrest in Ukraine has led to the temporary closure of our SOS social centre in the capital, Kiev. This means we have been forced to suspend some our community work while the situation stabilises. However, we remain in touch with the families we support in Kiev and all are safe despite the crisis.
Our Children's Village in the Kiev region lies around 15 miles from the centre of the unrest, in an area known as Brovary. All SOS families and staff remain safe and well, and are so far unaffected by the violence. Nobody associated with SOS Children has been involved in the protests. Our second Children's Village, in Lugansk (also known as “Luhansk”), near the border with Russia, is also unaffected.
What is the cause of the unrest in Ukraine?
Unrest began in Ukraine in November, when the government of Viktor Yanukovych rejected a historic trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia. In early December, 800,000 anti-government protesters occupied Kiev's City Hall and Independence Square, before eventually being joined by a small group of pro-government activists. Two protesters were killed on 22nd January in clashes with the police.
In late January, the government offered an amnesty to protesters on condition that they left all government buildings, and in mid-February 234 people were released from prison. Despite the evacuation of City Hall a few days later, and a further amnesty, the worst of the violence occurred last week when two days of clashes took the death toll up to 77. However, on 21st February, President Yanukovych signed a compromise deal hoping for the formation of a unity government.
What is the situation today?
On 22nd February, President Yanukovych fled Kiev, before later appearing on television declaring that he had been ousted in a coup d'etat. His whereabouts remains unknown. Olexandr Turchynov has been appointed interim president. Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of referring President Yanukovych and two of his supporters to the International Criminal Court for their involvement in the deaths of protesters. However, the formation of a unity government has been delayed by protests in eastern, pro-Russian regions opposed to the new administration.
Ukraine is on the verge of defaulting on its foreign debt. Russia had promised loans, but payment seems unlikely following this week's events. The International Monetary Fund, Europe and the United States have indicated that financial help may be forthcoming.
How is SOS Children helping Ukrainian families?
The fragile economy means conditions are tough for families in Ukraine. More than a third of people live below the national poverty line, unemployment is high, and Ukraine has one of Europe’s highest HIV/AIDS rates. Many children grow up without a mother and father. Most end up in old-fashioned, inadequate institutions which do little to prepare them for later life.
We are there to help these children. Since 2003, we have supported the most vulnerable families in the Podol district of Kiev, helping them create a better home for their children. We distributed food parcels to help desperate families survive in the short-term, and through ongoing support, we have helped numerous families achieve independence and dignity.
In 2010, we opened an SOS Children’s Village in Brovary, just outside Kiev. Here, we provide an SOS family for children who have lost their own, supporting them throughout their childhood so that they can succeed in later life. Since October 2013, we have provided care for children in Lugansk, and today, we help over 267 children from the community as well.
You can help. Sponsor a child with SOS Children and transform a child’s life:
Alternatively, learn more about our work in Ukraine.