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Threat of war in Ukraine complicates work of SOS Children's Villages
The war comes closer

Children have to be evacuated

The SOS Children's Villages in Ukraine had to evacuate the first families from the SOS Children's Village Luhansk due to the ongoing threat situation and intensive shelling along the demarcation line.

On Friday, 20 children and seven carers were brought from eastern Ukraine to Lviv in the west of the country, where they will stay for a fortnight. Based on an emergency plan that SOS Children's Villages was one of the first non-governmental organisations to develop, all families from the Luhansk Children's Village who are willing to leave are then to be accommodated in the SOS Children's Village Browary near Kiev.

Already on Thursday, the aid organisation had closed its social centre and office in Luhansk and relocated the team to Sjewjerodonezk. "We are trying to continue our help for children and families from there - as well and as long as we can," says emergency aid coordinator Julian Erjautz.

The relief organisation's emergency plan with three possible scenarios

#1: The first scenario assumed no to minimal escalation, so that no permanent resettlement is necessary. However, this stage has already been exceeded.

#2: The resettlement of the Children's Village families to Browary is part of the measures due to the significant escalation - scenario two. Erjautz explains, "Since we don't have sufficient transport ourselves, we are in contact with other aid organisations, government agencies and companies to organise it." Currently, they plan to accommodate 60 children and adults from the Luhansk Children's Village in Browary. "But in an emergency, we can accommodate another hundred in need of protection," Erjautz says. They have already set aside food reserves and made plans to be able to organise sleeping bags, hygiene articles or blankets immediately in case of an emergency.

#3: Scenario number three occurs if the conflict were to massively expand and also reach the capital Kiev. "In this case, we would also have to evacuate the SOS Children's Village Browary," says Erjautz. The families would then be helped to relocate to a safe place in western Ukraine. It is conceivable that equipment such as computers or educational material would have to be left behind, "even if that would make our further work much more difficult," Erjautz adds.

SOS plan for emergencies in eastern Ukraine

In addition, the aid organisation is currently training the population in the affected areas: "We recommend that families provide emergency bags with food, water, personal documents, clothing, first aid kits, communication devices and spare batteries, among other things. And they should all know where the nearest air raid shelter is," says Erjautz. In order to coordinate further action, the SOS Children's Villages are in close exchange with government agencies and other aid organisations.

SOS Children's Villages has been supporting children and families in Ukraine since 2003. After the outbreak of the Donbass conflict in 2014, the organisation expanded its work in Luhansk to respond to the growing need of the population.