Sunday 17 January 2021, 05:07

Ukrainian Institute
of Research of Extremism

CHILDREN OF WAR: Research on problems of childhood in Ukraine in conditions of military aggression



Children of war (PDF)




War and problems of new generation formation              

Children of forcibly displaced persons                             

 Safety of children in the area of military actions                

 Children in the temporarily occupied area                      

 Implications and recommendations                                     




The annexations of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and the war in Donbas have considerably changed the lives of all citizens of Ukraine, regardless of their places of residence. Most vulnerable segments of population, first of all, children, are most sensitive during any drastic changes in the society, especially, when such changes are associated with military or proto-military (like in Crimea) conflicts.

The children living in Donetsk and Luhansk Regions experienced and experience the consequences of the war to a deepest extent. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 5 million Ukrainian citizens have suffered during the conflict in Donbas. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 1.7 million of the aggrieved (or 34% of their total number) are children.

War has never accounted for a humanity factor. Therefore, it always leaves a great number of victims behind it, not only among combatants, but also among civilians, including children. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as of May 1, 2015, 68 children have died during the war in Donbas, with, at least, four of them during the recent ceasefire. 176 children have been wounded. Besides, the war in Donbas has resulted in emergence of victims among children from other countries. Among 298 victims of the Boeing 777 shoot down by separatists on July 2014, there were 80 variously-aged children.

At the same time, despite of the fact that there were no direct military engagements during the annexation in Crimea, youngest Ukrainian citizens, however, face problems of another kind. Therefore, we could not avoid the impact of proto-military problems in this research, such as children’s life under the conditions of occupation.

Children of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with their specific problems, represent another very large category of children formed due to the Russian aggression. Understanding the significant threats brought by the war and annexation, refugees from Crimea and Donbas started leaving for Ukraine-controlled areas. As of June 3, 2015, 1,325,154 displaced persons (or 3% of the entire population of Ukraine, excluding the annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and city of Sevastopol, according to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.

At the same time, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, 873,816 people were displaced as of June 3, 2015, including 853,124 people from Donetsk and Luhansk Regions and 20,692 people from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. It means that almost two thousand Ukrainian citizens have had to leave their homes and become refugees every week since the Russian aggression began. These figures only refer to those IDPs that ran away from the war to the Ukrainian territory.

Among the IDPs, there are 150,481 children (or 17.2% of their total number). It means that 330 children have been deprived of their homes every day since the so called “polite little men” began taking Crimea away from Ukraine. Displaced mothers gave birth to over four thousand infants in the Ukraine-controlled areas during this period.

As the war is running in the territory of our country, as a result of the permanent aggressive information products (died people, military actions, violence, “a language of enmity”) in mass media, due to the stress mental state of adults, after direct communication with the children of IDPs, the problem of the impact of the war on the formation (socialisation) of all Ukrainian children is becoming quite pressing. If in the past years, the term “children of war” was clearly associated in our country with the generation born just before and during the World War II, then today, it refers to quite another age category. It is worthy of note that children of war today do not already represent an old (or already formed) generation, but the generation that is only going through the socialisation stage, the stage of formation of the inner self and the future outer collective ourselves (which means the political and civic culture of a community and the entire nation). The society and the state, provided that they are interested in self-preservation, should not only care for welfare of the most vulnerable categories of population, but also for safety, education, children’s full access to rights and freedoms, and capability of the youngest Ukrainian citizens to assert them in the future.

The category of children who have become half-orphans as a result of the military actions is not large in number, but most war-affected. According to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, as of March 31, 2015, 1,086 children have lost their parents, as they took part in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) or were wounded in the ATO area. Today, the state authorities have introduced a number of measures aimed at providing such children with certain privileges (particularly, access to high education). However, to secure their rights, it is necessary to solve current “adult” problems, such as recognition of their deceased parents as the ATO participants (especially, if they were members of volunteer corps).

Indirectly, limitations of children’s rights for recreation are also a consequence of the war. As the TSN news informed on May 11, 2015, for the reason of the Russian occupation, Ukraine has lost 120 children’s recreation camps in Crimea and 70 camps in Luhansk and Donetsk Regions. They make up a quarter of all children’s recreation facilities that Ukraine owned.

*    *    *


The following data were used in this research:

- quantitative and qualitative systematisation of mass media data conducted by experts of our Institute;

- repliestorequestsforinformationfromministriesandothercentralexecutivebodies;

- resultsofthemonitoringandanalysisconductedbyourresearchcentres, stateauthorities, non-governmentalorganisations;

- public data taken from mass media;

- results of sociological surveys.



Formation of a full member of the society, who will be able to protect his/her rights, under the conditions of exaggerated popularisation of violence and polarisation of public opinions yet does not seem to be the most pressing issue, especially given that thousands of Ukrainian citizens, including children, have already perished during the war. But strategically, it is the solving to the socialisation vector problem that the future acceptable models of social behaviour and, consequently, the future of our country will largely depend on.

A latent problem of any war is that during that period, a new generation is formed, a generation cultivated in view of the wartime values. In Ukraine, this problem is being aggravated by the fact that there was a seventy-year gap, when Ukrainians did not experience wars in their country. War seemed to be an atavism of the past and, consequently, the education concepts were aimed at children’s socialisation under peacetime conditions.

War does not only popularise aggression and violent methods for solving problems. It discredits the moral standards of tranquil life, legal rules, compromises and dialogues as a means to an end. This will largely determine the behaviour standards of those Ukrainian citizens who were formed during the war.

According to experts, children’s stress is formed due to the lack of understanding of the on-going events. Therefore, special attention should be paid to dealing with psychology and rationalising processes of children’s socialisation.

It should be noted that during the 15 months after the beginning of the Russian aggression, the Ministry of Education of Ukraine prepared a number of guidelines, concepts related to patriotic education, new materials related to teaching modern history and providing psychological assistance for the educational system.

It is also important that the number of psychology specialists in the educational system of Ukraine almost doubled from 2006 to 2014, from 13,355 to 24,311. Though the previous (2014) year showed the insignificant dynamics of dismissal of these specialists, the educational system retained the formal succession pool and the methodical resource to provide psychological assistance and form the respective vector of personal socialisation.

The first thing that attracts attention in the system of patriotic education is the absence of the tradition of and experience in cultivating patriotism as a value and the lack of its recognition in the regulatory documents: “during the previous period, the term ‘national’ was wary of, and ‘patriotic education’ was only viewed as having an ethic or a neo-Soviet meaning”[1].

Regulatory documents issued by the Ministry of Education suggest the importance to negotiate flashiness and simplification in the process of forming patriotic values. For example, the guidelines for organisation of patriotic education of children and pupils in 2014/2015 academic years say that “it is important to avoid the replacement of the deep ideological gist of patriotism with its outer indicators, patriotism that means the readiness to facilitate the development of the Ukrainian democracy by hard work, scientific, creative and sports achievements and service”.

Therefore, Ukraine as a state recognises that conceptually, patriotism should not be reduced to “sharovarshchyna” (narrow-minded interpretation of the Ukrainian history, culture, language and traditions) or exclusively Ukrainian studies and Ukraine centrism. In this view, the positive component of the above-mentioned guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education is an example of organising patriotic education when such optional courses as Civic Studies, Fundamentals of Democracy, Democracy Studies were included into the optional part of the educational plans. It means that the Ministry of Education does not accentuate flag-waving values, but tries to position the Ukrainian national idea in the minds of teenagers as the one that is based on the values of democracy, civil society and humanity.

By the way, this is the difference of the Ukrainian educational system from the educational system inculcated in the occupied areas. Particularly, the Concept of patriotic and moral education of the so called “Republic of Crimea” stipulates that “patriotism is love of the Fatherland, devotion to the Fatherland, endeavour to serve its interests and readiness to defend it, including self-sacrifice”, which means that patriotism in the Russian doctrine is higher than the human right to life and the acceptable model of patriotic behaviour is to “serve the state” (the Russian concept), not to “facilitate the development of the state” (the Ukrainian concept).

The Concept of the national and patriotic education of children and youth approved by the Ministry of Education of Ukraine on March 26, 2015 says that its goal is to “form consciousness of the present and future generations so that they consider the state (patria) as the guarantor of their own personal development based on the idea of humanity, social welfare, democracy, freedom, tolerance, deliberateness, responsibility, a healthy way of living, readiness for changes”. It means that the state is not an end in itself, but a basis for people’s development.

The values of democratic development offered by the Ministry of Education to some extent stimulate to solve conflicts by means of a dialogue. However, in conditions of war, which always stimulates polar thinking, aggressive tendencies, violent problem solving, we think that a course of Conflict Management, popularisation of non-violent methods for problem solving and formation of a dialogue culture should become important components of the patriotic education. This issue is partially reflected in the Concept of patriotic education. It is also worthy of note that formation of “an ability to settle conflicts in accordance with the principles of democracy” is included in the section of the Concept dedicated to the military and patriotic education.

However, “motivation of a person to active counteraction against Ukraine-phobia, amorality, separatism, chauvinism, fascism” is a parallel direction in the objectives of education. We can agree with this direction (provided that a young citizen can clearly differentiate between morality and amorality or between patriotism and fascism, for instance), but without the necessary concretisation, the practical implementation of such “active counteraction” is rather questionable (i.e. understanding of who may exert violence against antisocial persons).

Probably, in order to understand the limits and the acceptable methods, the above-mentioned guidelines contain such goal-directed vectors of the educational process as pupils’ gain of critical thinking, initiative, a creative approach, responsibility for their actions and deeds, popularisation of civic and volunteer activities.

The analysis of the materials recommended by the Ministry of Education as the last paragraph of the History of Ukraine for Form 11 Manual demonstrates deliberateness in the provision of information, especially with regard to conflicting issues: “a lot of people invited disaster to their lands, being under the influence of the Russian propaganda. Some people betrayed their country, hoping for larger social benefits in case Russia occupies them. Other people, with criminals and drug addicts among them, hoped that the coup will raise them and give an opportunity to rob and maraud scot-free. Instead, the core of the separatists consisted of Russian agents”. Assessing the materials in their entirety, we proceeded from the necessity to strengthen the patriotic values. And, given the on-going military actions in Ukraine, this paragraph is rather deliberate. It tells about both the support for the Russian combatants by part of the local residents and the significant impact of the social and economic promises and the Russian propaganda on the citizens.

Though, it should be noted that there is imposition of rather controversial parallels. Namely, the following sentence: “just like during the World War II, there were some people who became collaborationists”[2]. At the same time, the analysis of the above-mentioned paragraph showed that even avoiding hypertrophic heroisation of the war, the educational system did not accentuate the actual social, economic and demographic consequences of the military actions for entire Ukraine. At the same time, certain attention in the supplementary paragraph is paid to the pressing wartime issues, such as a wide movement of volunteers, the Ukrainians’ support for armed forces personnel and forcibly displaced persons.

Understanding the problems in teaching history, especially, at its crucial moments, we should proceed with the necessity to form the ability to think critically, on the one hand, and to systematically form the patriotic values of the next generation, on the other hand.

The fact that social responsibility and polyculture are among the principles of the patriotic education is very important in the context of the military conflict in Ukraine. “It is important that pupils, regardless of their nationality and region of residence, should associate themselves with Ukraine, strive to live in Ukraine, understand the need to comply with the constitutional and legal requirements and to know the national language, take their region’s history as part of the history of Ukraine, feel their own involvement in the future of their native land as an integral part of the united country”, the guidelines of the Ministry of Education say.

Crucial in the process of formation of critical thinking is the understanding, stipulated in the Concept, that the national and patriotic education must not cultivate “the ideas of cultural imperialism, i.e. the way of perceiving the world only through the eyes of the national culture”. In this context, the Ukrainian educational values become a vector (the object of patriotism) and a qualitative opposition to the idea of “the Russian world”.

Generally, during 2015, it is planned to establish the Centre for patriotic education, which will be subordinate to the Ministry of Education, and an information resource dedicated to the national and patriotic themes. In 2016-2017, it is planned to develop programmes and educational manuals aimed at patriotic education of the youth. In our opinion, the problem is not so much in the fact that this process is dragged out, as in the importance of the practical implementation of the components of the above-mentioned Concept.

We must be aware that the issues related to patriotic education are not the objectives of the educational sector alone. Other socialisation channels should be involved in this process, too, including mass media. But currently, it is in the cultural (not news or documentary) area where there is significant vacuum yet. We mean high quality theatrical and animated films, which would promote the formation of patriotic and democratic values with children.

The vacuum of our own cultural products is filled with low-rank and flag-waving information products made in other countries. The problem is in the excessive number of information products from the countries, whose proclaimed patriotic values are not in line with the Ukrainian ones, not only with regard to their objects, but also fundamentally. We do not only mean threats of forming our teenagers’ patriotic feelings to other countries, but also imposition of the values that are in contradiction with the ones that the domestic educational system attempts to strengthen, namely, excessive heroisation of war, easiness of self-sacrifice and the same easiness of murder, propaganda of violence and aggressiveness. These peculiarities is attributed to Russian films, which actually monopolised the information space before the war and continue to occupy the leading positions in it so far (having the respective propagandistic message). Given the excessive number of such films, we can observe substitution of notions, the lack of understanding of the social essence of war (military heroism monopolises the information message of war, without focusing on the humanitarian tragedy). The new generation should not take war and violence, even against an enemy, as a heroic adventure.

Therefore, the state, especially during the war, should clearly identify the ideological aspects of films and their targets, as well as heroisation of military actions divorced from reality.

The lack of national television channels and domestic information products for children is quite a problem, too. Cable networks offer certain television channels; however, they contain other countries’ information products. Consequently, education of children is fully shifted to parents and the educational system. Meanwhile, the Russian propaganda actively manipulates children’s awareness by substituting the values of love to the native land with xenophobia.

Today, along with the non-patriotic component, children, through information products, have easy access to violent scenes and vulgar vocabulary. This does not only influence children’s minds, but also the acceptable behaviour models of the following generations. The problem is that products for children are not profitable. That is why a considerable part of children receives the information products that do not suit their age. A great number of low-rank serials, criminal news and investigations, entertaining programmes for adults atrophy perception of reality by children and popularise extremity in practical activities.

Analysing the educational problems, we cannot overlook the problem of formation of a split between the occupied and the free areas of Ukraine, for along with patriotism in the form of self-sacrifice, the occupation authorities actively inculcate militarisation of education. Particularly, the occupation authorities in Sevastopol organised an automatic gun assembly / disassembly contest during the celebration of the International Day for Protection of Children.

Thus, the educational system in Ukraine on a regulatory basis recognised formation of a patriotic Ukrainian as one of its objectives. For this purpose, it is understood that patriotism suggests, first, non-recognition of the state dominance in its relations with people (paternalism), with the people themselves dominating; and second, patriotism should not be reduced to “sharovarshchyna”, but should be a set of values aimed at understanding and exercising human and civil rights.

At the same time, at the level of popularisation of patriotism and peaceful methods for conflict settlement, the information policy system should undergo fundamental changes. We do not so much mean the division of the world into “good” and “bad” guys, which approach is promoted by the Russian propaganda and sometimes used by Ukrainian mass media. This xenophobic approach to formation of a nation, which Russian communication channels apply, results in the constant need of an external enemy, as a reinforcing stimulus. And as soon as this system fails, the country begins experiencing centrifugal processes.

The problem is that a number of values, which the system of patriotic education tries to cultivate, should find their place in other non-educational communication channels. But so far, the Ukrainian socialisation system is characterised by cognitive dissonance, when the educational system forms the values different from those formed by mass media and mass culture.

Consequently, the principal conclusion is that we need to form an integral system for educating Ukrainian children, with not only educational facilities involved.


Any military actions are always accompanied with displaced persons, civilians, who try to leave the area of military actions.

As of May 18, 2015, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine reports of the displacement from the conflict areas of 148,369 children, including 142,709 children (or 96% of all children of IDPs) from Donetsk and Luhansk Regions and 5,660 children from Crimea and Sevastopol. So, forcible displacement is largely caused not by political prosecution, but by safety risks. It means that in one form or another, displaced persons experienced (a) consequences of military actions or their actual threat; (b) displacement associated with the understanding that it will be impossible to return (a threat of destruction or collection of the property they left); (c) the need to begin a new life in new environment, without familiar social relations and often without the required financing.

According to experts, families of displaced persons experience a double trauma. First, they need to overcome the stress related to staying in the area of military actions and associated with the left long-inhabited place. Second, they need to overcome the stress associated with the need to become adapted to new environment. In a hypertrophic form, theses psychological traumas impact on their children, too.

Despite of the fact that children experience displacement-related stresses in the same way as adults do or even deeply, they, nevertheless, are faced with a number of other specific problems. In particular, they feel the lack of attention of adult members of their families. While solving problems related to financial support of their families, parents spend less time on communicating with their children. A child may perform part of family duties, which children did not use to do before the war. So, there is a crisis related to changes in environment and a crisis related to changes in family roles, leading to acceleration of children’s coming-of-age. Consequently, children’s stress becomes aggravated.

This is why one of the pressing issues today is the necessity to provide children with psychological assistance. Therefore, starting in last April, the Ministry of Education has been actively developing guidelines regarding educational work in conflict situations and in the conditions of social and political conflicts. Particularly, IDPs’ children, according to these guidelines, are proposed to be included into vulnerable categories of population; the ministry proposes that we should cultivate “understanding and respect of feelings and opinions of other people” in them. According to the letter of the Ministry of Education dated November 17, 2014, the educational programme for advanced training of specialists of the psychological service on consulting and overcoming psychological traumas, including those associated with military actions, should have been developed this year. However, due to several factors, educational psychologists and social workers, who deal with IDP’s children, still use the previous materials, while working with families that found themselves in complicated life situations, and the materials developed by non-government organisations and several children’s psychologists.

One of the important factors, due to which the problem of provision of refugees with psychological assistance is not aggregated enough, is that such assistance is ignored by displaced persons themselves. Ukrainians, regardless of their place of residence, have not yet started to understand that specialised psychological assistance can relieve distress in their lives. Surveys of IDPs demonstrate that access to psychologists and the respective services makes them concerned, but to a much lesser degree than the problem of employment, accommodation and medical aid.

Besides, there are other reasons why specific problems of refugees’ children are hard to identify. First, displaced persons are often characterised by a high mobility rate, especially during the first months after they exit the occupied area. Under such circumstances, continuous moves, on the one hand, do not aggregate children’s problems for educational workers and, on the other hand, give an opportunity to bate the first stress related to the departure from the areas of the military conflict.

Second, the majority of IDPs’ children is concentrated in the liberated areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions or is staying with their relatives, i.e. in the places and with the people where they have already been partially adapted.

Third, due to the absence of a number of socially-imposed hang-ups, a child can rather easily be adapted in a new social environment. For example, as
E. Libanova, the director of the Demography Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, notes, the problem of the language of education are relegated to the background for refugees’ children.

Nevertheless, while systematising the recommendations on adaptation of displaced persons’ children, it is worthwhile accounting for different degrees of life stresses that a person has overcome, as part of the refugees had left the occupation area before the military actions began in their settlement, another part ran away from shelling. Some people left their relatives in the occupied area; some of the relatives have died during the war. Probably, the mist difficult objective to Ukraine as a state is psychological assistance to those of IDPs’ children, whose father (parents) died as being a combatant of the quasi-republics or continues waging the war on the separatists’ side. We should also account the duration of a child’s stay in the occupied area.

For the majority of IDPs’ children, the adaptation-related problems are similar to those faced by the majority of the children who find themselves in a new social environment. To solve them, we should create a favourable general social and psychological climate at the educational facility.

Given the stresses accompanying a child and his/her parents during their forcible displacement and the need to cross the delimitation line, access to medical aid is one of the most urgent issues that refugees with children become concerned about. It is children who need medical aid most of all, which is proved by the statistical data of the State Emergency Service.

For example, as of June 1, 2015, 259,137 displaced persons (29.7% of all IDPs) have requested for medical aid, including 98,416 children, which means that 65.4% of all IDPs’ children needed medical aid. Besides, children have made up 38% of all IDPs that have received medical services at hospitals. It should be reminded that the number of IDPs’ children only amounts to 17.2%. So, children need much more medical aid than adults. Besides, the fact that only 62,090 children (or 41% of all IDPs’ children) have been registered at hospitals is not so optimistic.


At a first glance, the situation with enrolment of IDPs’ children to educational facilities is difficult, too. For example, out of the children of the refugees from Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, 76.6 thousand have been enrolled to schools and kindergartens, which makes up 53.7% of their total number.

However, the survey made by Kharkiv Institute of Social Studies shows that the most acute problems which the displaced persons are faced with are employment (45%) and medical service (36%). In its turn, the problem of children’s enrolment to the kindergarten, for instance, concerns only 4% of the refugees. Given that employment is not accessed by half of the refugees, the problem of their children’s enrolment to the kindergarten, with the parents staying at home, has not yet become urgent.

Among the basic problems to be solved as soon as possible, there is the problem of shifting the issue of provision of services, including medical and educational, to local budgets. For example, the planned health expenses were calculated only in view of local residents. But today, displaced persons receive medical services at their expense. This does not only decrease the possibilities to access medical services by the both population categories, but also causes risks of conflicts and enmity between the local population and the displaced persons.

The target allocation of costs from the state budget to implement social and other guarantees for IDPs could be a way out of this situation. This would not only facilitate fair cost distribution, but also stimulate local authorities to improve servicing displaced persons and their children.

Massive habitation of people at one place, which, as a rule, lacks the required medical and sanitary conditions, of which part of the displaced persons are characterised today, always implies threats of epidemics. Given the difficult situation in the Ukrainian medicine, consequences of such epidemics may be considerable. These threats are especially pressing for children, who can facilitate penetration of epidemic threats from places of massive habitation to educational facilities, thus not only stimulating health threats, but also conflict aggravations between the local and displaced population.

Such an approach could provide with a possibility to reduce the risk of conflicts between the local residents and the refugees.

2.5 ENG

The Ukrainian Institute of Research of Extremism have conducted a monitoring of mentions of IDPs’ problems in mass media. According to the results of the research, out of 754 items of information about the displaced persons placed during January-May 2015 on ten top Internet resources, 374 items clearly described qualitative and quantitative problems directly associated with IDPs.

So, only 7% of the items mentioned IDPs’ children. The major problem determined in the information materials is financial support of refugees (53% of all mentions) and statistical information about IDPs (27%).

At the same time, in spite of the wide-spread rumours regarding the involvement of the displaced persons to criminal activities, this theme was found in only 4% of the information items. Nevertheless, the state should apply all possible measures to overcome the language of enmity in the society with regard to the displaced persons of Donbas.

We mean: (a) social advertisements regarding assistance to the refugees and promotion of positive principles for national unity (as opposed to negative ones); (b) establishment of legal responsibility for dissemination of regional intolerance, especially by state officials; (c) formation of values of national unity by positive examples.

Tolerance towards the displaced persons should be strengthened through all possible state and civil society institutions, as “adult” problems associated with common habitation of the local and displaced population are projected and hyperbolised in conversations within children’s collectives.

The level of financial support of IDPs and their children is still low. The Ministry of Social Policy informs that starting on October 1, the special allowance to IDPs for accommodation purposes was introduced. It is provided that such an allowance for one child, as an unemployed person, amounts to UAH 884, and the total volume of allowances for one family is limited by UAH 2,400 per month. In our opinion, such limitations are not grounded, as they lead to reduction of expenses that families with children can obtain. For example, a family consisting of two children and two employable members (who receive UAH 442 each) obtain UAH 2,400 instead of UAH 2,652; so, such families in fact are limited in receiving allowances.

It should be noted that Ukraine has maintained control over the great part of educational facilities in the territory of its two eastern regions. Currently, there is a great number of educational institutions in Ukraine-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions: 47.9% of pre-school facilities (841 out of 1,757), 48.7% of general education facilities (888 out of 1,824), 39.7% of vocational schools (75 out of 189), 65% of higher educational institutions of accreditation levels I-II (52 out of 80), 42.5% of higher educational institutions of accreditation levels III-IV (14 out of 31).

According to the Ministry of Education, 45% of children in the liberated areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions are covered with out-of-school education.


But, given that the significant part of IDPs’ children stays in Ukraine-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, the major problem today is the considerable load on educational facilities.

Generally, it should be noted that while protecting Ukrainian IDPs, we should refuse from excessive expectations for the international community; as only officially registered, there are 20 million refugees and 25 million internally displaced persons in the world and 80% of them are women and children. Several countries have 10% of its population displaced within the territory of the country. It means that Ukraine, with its 3% of displaced persons, is not in the focus of attention of international migration controlling bodies.

So, provision of psychological and medical assistance and access to educational facilities are among the basic problems faced with by IDPs’ children.

Unfortunately, part of these problems are either solved by self-regulation (medical treatment at the expense of local budgets), or not solved at all, as they have not become pressing (for example, access to kindergartens), or potentially not aggregated yet (due to the high level of mobility of the displaced persons).

Potentially, we have part of the people that after their possible return to Donbas will bring to this territory the identity and the values that will be cultivated in them during the war. Therefore, the state and the society should concentrate their efforts on forming an integral personality not only able to adapt to a new environment, but also to become a promoter of Ukrainian interests in Donbas in the future and one of the efficient means of its future reintegration.

Besides, not only refugees, but also local population should be objects for adaptation of IDPs’ children to a new environment. Tolerance to other people is the problem, but no so much of the displaced persons, as the environment they arrive to.


The problem of children’s presence in the areas of military actions and securing their safety in the post-war environment is one of the most acute of all problems related to the impact of war on the young generation.

Currently, there are no exact statistics regarding the number of children affected by the military actions in Donbas. According to the UNICEF, as of April 2015, at least 42 children have died and 109 have been wounded by mortar bombs and ordnances exploded in Donetsk and Luhansk Regions. According to the data issued by the WHO, as of May 1, 68 children have died and 176 have been wounded during the military actions in Donbas. According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, as of May 15, 2015, 4 children have died in Luhansk Region and 48 in Donetsk Region; 7 children have been wounded or injured in Luhansk Region and 123 in Donetsk Region.

Given the military actions in the area and the absence of official communication between Ukraine and the separatists, we can expect that the number of victims among children is higher than the above figures.

We can assert that in percentage terms, the number of children that died during the conflict is in any case lower than the number of adults. But we should understand that the objective of the state and non-governmental organisations is to do their best to make this number stop growing. The only efficient way out here today is to reduce the level of children’s presence in the areas of military actions.

For this purpose, we should adopt the respective regulatory legal acts, which would compel the respective authorities and official to take all measures aimed at displacing children from the area of military actions, including against their parents’ will.

The availability of hidden ordnances and explosive substances is one of the major problems faced with by children in the areas where military actions took place.

The State Emergency Service reports that from July 2014 until late March 2015, over 33 thousand of unexploded ordnances were found; 22 to 36 per day. It is only in the areas controlled by Ukraine.

During May 2014 – April 2015, 11 children were injured (and 2 died) as a result of unsanctioned use of unexploded ordnances in Ukraine. It is notable that Donetsk and Luhansk Regions present the highest level of danger in this connection: 10 children were injured (and 1 child died) in these regions.

At the end of the previous year, UNICEF presented the first stage of the information campaign dedicated to dangers of mortar bombs and unexploded ordnances to children and adults. Under this campaign, they distributed 600 thousand information leaflets for children and adults, and schools received 200 thousand posters. The Ministry of Education and Science prepared and issued the guidelines for teachers on the peculiarities of communication with children about risks and dangers of unexploded ordnances.

The State Emergency Service reports that during 2014, it and the UNICEF made and distributed in the ATO area 50 thousand leaflets on bomb safety among children and their parents. In May 2015, the State Emergency Service together with the OSCE printed 5 thousand copies of the Rules of conduct (procedure of actions) of population in case of finding suspicious and unexploded ordnances in the ATO area.

So, the living environment safety information campaign is becoming permanent and should be continued even after the military actions end. Nevertheless, in spite of the activities of the state and international organisations, children continue being injured by unexploded ordnances. Besides, it should be taken into account that along with incidental explosions, children’s carelessness presents a great danger, too. A considerable part of cases of injuring children as a result of detonation of ordnances referred to their careless conduct (children tried to dismantle them).

The second problem related to the children living in a post-war environment is to overcome the post-war psychological stress. For instance, last May, before the beginning of the active military conflict, UNICEF conducted a research in Donetsk Region. According to it, at that time, already half of children felt fear, anxiety and similar feelings. It is notable that the youngest children experienced the highest stress level.

Third, one of the consequences of staying in the area of the military conflict, but not less important, is the formation of a negative attitude towards armed people. We can understand how difficult it is for Ukrainian servicemen to experience a crisis of confidence from the people they want to liberate. Therefore, the state and non-governmental organisations should promote the formation among the population and especially among the children being socialised in a post-war environment of clear understanding of the differences between an armed man and a serviceman of the Ukrainian military organisations, between a legitimate and illegal use of arms. At the same time, such understanding is only possible if Ukraine as a state conducts a systematic regional policy (including post-war restoration) in the areas, where the central state authorities have low legitimacy.

Fourth is the problem of destruction of social infrastructure. Availability of the respective educational, medical and cultural facilities has indirect influence on childhood in the area of military actions, too. No doubt, it is very difficult to take inventory of damages to such facilities today, especially if they are situated in the area of military actions.

Particularly, at least 27 health facilities have been damaged in the two regions. The calculated losses amount to UAH 76 million. The data on seven facilities are still being calculated, and the data on the majority of them are preliminary. Besides, in Luhansk Region alone, 28 cultural facilities have been damaged (or destroyed) during the military actions.

It is not only important to take prompt measures to restore these facilities, but also to emphasise Ukraine’s contribution in restoration of social infrastructure damaged during the military actions. It is also important to channel resources to restore the economy and the residential properties in Donetsk and Luhansk Regions by a separate subvention (item of expenses) at the level of the Law of Ukraine “On the State Budget”, not by adopting orders of the central executive authorities. This would enable, first, to send a message to the residents of the de-occupied areas that their problems will be solved at the highest level, second, to side-line rumours, which may be disseminated among the residents of other Ukrainian regions that Donbas is restored at their expense. This would hamper the dissemination of the language of enmity, to a certain degree, which is also a problem in the relations between the residents of various regions.


Therefore, the objective of the state (in view of the problems highlighted in the previous section) is to popularise in the ATO area the expediency of psychological diagnostics, especially among the children that survived occupation and military actions aimed at liberating their settlements. The urgent objective is to continue popularising the rules of safe living in a post-war environment among children.

And, doubtlessly, it is important to conduct a consistent policy aimed at restoration of the war-affected areas, implementation of the state programmes for formation of patriotic values in children and popularisation of representatives of the legitimate defence and law enforcement agencies.


As a result of the Russian imperialist occupation policy with regard to our country, Ukraine currently does not control approximately 45 thousand square kilometres of its territory, which in 2013 was inhabited by about 6 million citizens, with children representing their considerable part.

Today, it is difficult to estimate exactly how many children live in the area not controlled by Ukraine. As of January 1, 2014, there were 388.7 thousand people aged below 18 in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. About 70 thousand children lived in Sevastopol.

As for the uncontrolled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, it is very difficult to calculate the number of children there. But the trends show that the situation is rather complicated. Given that the number of children among the displaced persons amounts to 17.2% and the correlation between the children affected by the war in Donbas and the total war-affected population is 34%, we can see an important peculiarity: a lot of families with children have no possibility to leave the area. Meanwhile, according to the results of the sociological survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in November 2014, 41% of families with children that live in occupation would like to, but could not evacuate their children to a safe area. It suggests that Ukraine has not yet created proper conditions for their evacuation and staying in the free areas.

Besides, but not less importantly, it suggests that the considerable part of children stay in the occupied areas of Donbas. As for Crimea, according to the data provided by the State Emergency Service, only 5 thousand children were displaced from the peninsula.

Taking all the above into consideration, we can come to the conclusion that the basic part of children stay in the occupied areas. For example, according to the data of the Authorised Representative of the President of Ukraine on the Rights of Children, as of the beginning of 2015, about a half million children lived in the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, which is at least a four time larger figure compared with those children who were evacuated to the Ukraine-controlled area.

For many children living in occupation (Luhansk and Donetsk Regions), the pressing problems are practically the same as for the children living in the area of military actions, but Ukraine as a state is unable to exercise its powers to secure their life and health safety (including mental health).

Socialisation problems are urgent for them, too (the anti-Ukrainian vector of education at schools, in mass media and other communication channels). Even after the return of Crimea and the occupied part of Donbas to Ukraine, our society will face the global reintegration problem, for hundreds of thousands of the children that lived in occupation are being taught on a Ukraine-phobic basis. We will also have to deal with the children, whose parents supported or fought for the “DPR” and “LPR”, and with the children, whose parents died during the military actions in Donbas.

However, before these areas become liberated, the state has a possibility to stimulate talented children, as future intellectual elite, to train and complete their basic specialisation on the basis of the democratic values of the Ukrainian patriotism. We mean the involvement of the school-leavers in studying at the higher educational institutions located in the Ukraine-controlled areas.

As the previous year showed, the “war for school-leavers” will be waged in the conditions of stiff competition and a number of internal problems. First, we mean the purposeful policy of the invading state. For example, Russia stated last year that it would provide Crimean young people with privileged conditions of entering Russian higher educational institutions. Totally, 1,400 residents of Crimea entered Russian higher educational institutions in 2014. It is notable that only 300 pupils from Crimea (i.e. 2.4% of all Crimean school-leavers) registered to participate in the External Independent Assessment in Ukraine.


As for the 2015 entrance campaign, it is yet very difficult to estimate the exact figures, remembering of the possibility that the school-leavers from the occupied areas could take part in the second stage of the External Independent Assessment. However, according to the results of Kherson Regional Centre for Independent Assessment, which is the closest one to the Crimea, 65 school-leavers from Crimea took part in the test in Ukrainian Language.

Totally, over 14 thousand pupils will leave school in 2015 in Crimea (including Sevastopol). 1,040 future applicants took the Russian Unified State Examination in Russian Language, but this is not indicative, as the Unified State Examination is not compulsory for the Crimean pupils intended to enter Russian higher educational institutions. For them, there is an option: they may take examinations at the higher educational institution itself (about 3% of student spaces in Russian higher educational institutions are reserved for Crimean school-leavers). However, comparing the figures in general, we can assert that only 5.9% of Crimean pupils of those who made a final decision plan to enter Ukrainian higher educational institutions.

During this academic year, the Crimean occupation authorities refused to teach Ukrainian Language in senior forms, thus creating artificial obstacles for the school-leavers from Crimea to enter Ukrainian higher educational institutions (Ukrainian Language is a compulsory subject at all courses at our higher educational institutions)

Second, there are bureaucratic obstacles created by the Ukrainian part. For instance, Ukraine does not recognise education certificates issued in the occupied areas. The letter of the Ministry of Education “Regarding organisation of education at general education facilities for the person that live in the temporarily occupied areas in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol and in the areas of the Anti-Terrorist Operation in Donetsk and Luhansk Regions” dated October 14, 2014 says that any education documents issued by “the occupation structures of the Russian Federation and the self-appointed ‘authorities’ shall have no legal force and will not have it in the future”.

To have a possibility to enter higher educational institutions and vocational schools, the school-leavers that live in occupation “may continue training in the territory of Ukraine under all possible forms”. As the Ministry of Education reports, it means distant and external studies. Namely, these pupils should study remotely or they become refugees. In any case, to obtain a Ukrainian certificate of secondary education and all other documents required to enter the higher educational institutions, a school-leaver from the occupied areas should either become a refugee or cross the delimitation line several times (to become registered for external studies, to undergo the State Final Attestation and the External Independent Assessment). For example, to obtain all documents required to enter a Ukrainian university and to take examinations, a school-leaver living in the occupied area and having no possibility to stay in the free area for several days will have to cross the military delimitation line (or the so called border between the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Kherson Region) for at least six times.

Taking into account the absence of passenger traffic between the occupied and the Ukraine-controlled areas, the low incomes of the population, especially in the areas of military actions, in 2015 Ukraine is at risk to lose the school-leavers from the uncontrolled areas. So, from the beginning of their adult life, young Ukrainians are getting accustomed to the idea that Ukraine does not care for its citizens. The absence of the proper conditions for the school-leavers in the free areas of Ukraine makes even the patriotic part of the population stay in the occupied areas.

Third, year after year, due to Ukraine-phobia inculcated in the occupied areas, the flow of school-leavers will decrease. For example, anti-Ukrainian ideology and violence is actively popularised at schools in Donetsk; at School No. 46, the children made a performance, in which the imaginary so called “militiamen” killed the imaginary Ukrainian soldiers.

Actually, what is meant here is the need to apply all possible measures to provide population in the occupied areas (including children) with access to objective information, which suggests the formation of specialised information channels for the population with a predominantly Ukraine-phobic position.

The fourth peculiarity is the necessity to strengthen involvement of the school-leavers from the occupied areas. It is these children that will become a locomotive of the Ukrainian ideology in the areas of their permanent residence during their training at higher educational institutions.

Fifth is the creation in Ukraine of practical conditions for migration of children to the free areas of Ukraine, which should be done by creating real conditions of access to educational institutions and introducing an efficient mechanism for legitimisation of knowledge gained at secondary educational institutions located in the occupied areas. But first of all, the system for involvement of school-leavers from the occupied Crimea and areas of Donbas should be based on the understanding of the gradual gap in the system of knowledge that the pupils gain in the occupied areas.

It especially refers to humanitarian sciences, because such subjects as History of Ukraine, Ukrainian Literature, which form the basis of the External Independent Assessment in social and humanitarian subjects, are not taught at schools in the occupied areas.

In this context, the appointment of two additional sessions (the principal one took place in April) in Ukrainian Language for the persons from the occupied areas is a step forward. The Ministry of Education also stipulates that citizens of Ukraine living in occupation shall be entitled to get registered to undergo the External Independent Assessment in any settlement. However, in view of technical problems (the absence of passenger traffic), the access to these settlements remains complicated.

The problem associated with issuance of birth certificates to new citizens of Ukraine born in the occupied areas is similar to the problem of access of the school-leavers from the occupied areas to education. The situation is similar to the one with issuance of education certificates and diplomas: our country refuses to recognise birth certificates issued by the occupation authorities. In this view, the people that live in occupation and wish their children would be deemed citizens of Ukraine will be deprived of this opportunity.

It is understood that in view of the development of electronic technologies, these citizens may be provided with the possibility to notify Ukrainian registration bodies by sending them electronic messages. And Ukrainian registration offices, after the respective examination, may inform these citizens about the readiness of their documents and the possibility of obtaining them in the territory of Ukraine.

So, in practice, the residents of the occupied areas are materially limited in their possibilities to enter Ukrainian higher educational institutions after leaving general education institutions located in occupation. It should be noted that year after year, the flow of Ukrainian school-leavers to Ukraine will decrease, as the propaganda machine demonising the enemy will function rather actively.

Generally, potential students from the occupied areas face a number of problems preventing them from continuing training in the Ukraine-controlled areas: first, complicated technical opportunities to continue training (an external factor) and second, the expediency beliefs are getting weaker and the knowledge gap is getting larger (an internal factor) to continue training in Ukraine.

Consequently, simplification of obtaining an education certificate by means of introduction of a unified examination, which would give a possibility to issue a Ukrainian school certificate and, at the same time, to obtain the required certificates of passing the External Independent Assessment (with the respective system for unification of grades between them and the standard certificates), is an efficient proposal.

It means that the blockade of the occupied areas, including its legal grounds, should not have any features of an economic blockade.



The problem of the children of war cannot be solved in isolation from the “state-war” problem. Therefore, the policy with regard to children should be an integral part of the general programme for restoration of territorial integrity and the programme for adaptation of displaced persons.

Consequently, the formation of the respective authority responsible for the implementation of the Strategy for restoration of territorial integrity of Ukraine should be the most important indicator of the consistency of the state policy with regard to children and the war-caused problems. Unfortunately, during the 15 months after the Russian aggression began, there is neither a strategy with regard to the occupied areas and adaptation of displaced persons nor the unified authority responsible for its implementation.

Therefore, a number of measures that are implemented today do not affect other spheres and, consequently, they are losing their efficiency. Namely, the approaches for introduction of critical thinking and a dialogue offered by the educational authorities encounter excessive violence and popularisation of polar thinking in mass media. The theoretical possibilities for the school-leavers from the occupied areas are completely neutralised by the absence of passenger traffic between the areas.

Generally, protection of children and their rights from war, military actions and violence in Ukraine requires solving a number of other problems, too, which should be part of the integrated strategy.

1. The conceptually chosen direction of educating the new generation in the spirit of patriotism differs significantly (i.e. not only by its vector, but also by its paradigm) from the direction offered and inculcated by the invaders. If Ukraine focuses on such values as democracy, civil and human rights, then in Russia patriotism means the ability of self-sacrifice in the interests of the state. The model of patriotic actions is also indicative: “promote the development of the state” in Ukraine and “serve the state” in Russia.

So, in the military conflict, the Russian Federation will have citizens with higher motivation to self-sacrifice, while the civil society in Ukraine will be stronger than in Russia. Ukraine is building a society, where the human rights, not the state interests, will dominate. Therefore, our way of development is exceptionally peaceful. Taking this into account, only in a peaceful field of confrontation Ukraine will paradigmatically have a possibility to stand against the Russian aggression. Respectively, we should apply all instrumentality of power to localise the on-going conflict in a non-military sphere.

2. The absence of the unwavering faith in the state in Ukraine indicates that shifting the Russian tradition of informational brainwashing of population in the interests of the state into the Ukrainian information environment is not expedient. This conclusion does not remove the need to establish and popularise other channels of strengthening the patriotic values offered by the education system.

The formation of the regulatory and legal preconditions for creation and development of domestic information products for children is among the pressing interests of the Ukrainian society today. Given that the problem will require much time, it is already now that we should introduce limitations in the Law of Ukraine “On television and radio broadcasting” with regard to broadcasting audio-visual products manufactured in one foreign country (for example, a limit of 20-25% of all products broadcast by one television channel). This would not only enable to avoid monopolisation of our information space, but also to facilitate the integrity of the domestic system for patriotic education.

We should understand that the values cultivated by the educational system should be permanently strengthened by other means, too, namely, by mass media and social networks. Respectively, the concept of the state information policy (the draft concept should have been presented by the Ministry of Information Policy in May) should account for all these requirements.

3. We should simplify the possibility of obtaining Ukrainian education certificates by introducing:

a) general education testing of the school-leavers from the occupied areas (which would include assessment in the subject not taught in the occupied areas now and, simultaneously, could become the unified examination for the purpose of obtaining a school certificate and be used to determine the grades at the External Independent Assessment),and

b) thecomprehensivestate examination for the graduates from higher educational institutions.

The simplified assessment system, first, would provide for understanding the promising outlook for the pupils to study at Ukrainian universities, and second, would significantly complicate the inculcation of the Ukraine-phobic educational policy in the occupied areas.

It means that if the requirements for entering universities for the school-leavers from the occupied areas have not become simplified in the nearest future, Ukraine will strengthen the blockade by applying its humanitarian component and will in practice stimulate the further growth of the cultural gap between the citizens living in the occupied and the free areas.

It is dangerous, as that the old generation will remember the cohabitation practice and, respectively, will easier reintegrate into the Ukrainian society, while children will have another historical memory, which will be artificially inculcated in them on the anti-Ukrainian basis.

4. Attention to protection of the rights, namely, medical and educational, of IDPs’ children should be strengthened. First of all, we mean financing of services to refugees by the target subvention from the state budget, nit by using the resources, which used to be channelled to meet the needs of local residents.

This will eliminate the grounds for conflicts between the displaced and the local population and improve the attitude of the local authorities towards IDPs, given that this financing will depend on the number of IDPs accepted by the respective local community.

5. We should promote resettlement of displaced persons, especially families with children, from the areas of compact settlement. First, this will neutralise the feeling of their needlessness to the state; second, it will reduce the threats of epidemics; third, this will eliminate the possibility of forming artificial ghettoes, when in the context of the language of enmity, or sometimes the conduct of enmity, certain centripetal processes inside the group took place. Under such circumstances, the generation in the process of formation (socialisation) may have the hypertrophic feeling of needlessness to the Ukrainian society and the feeling of “helping hand” from the people from their “ghetto”. The further re-socialisation of such persons will be quite complicated.

6. It is important to understand that all children’s problems represent the transferred projection and exaggeration of adults’ problems. Therefore, the state should:

a) solve the most acute problems of displaced persons; first of all, we mean the employment problem, which is basic for any refugee. According to experts, the psychology of an employed person considerably differs from that of a person, who cannot find a job for a long time. People tend to get accustomed to such a status; besides, the displaced persons will surely face the same problem even after they return to their homes. However, we should understand that employment of IDPs will lead to aggravating other problems, namely, organising spaces for IDPs’ children in kindergartens;

b) make efforts aimed at infrastructural development of the liberated areas. This would enable the residents of the liberated areas to realise their own significance for Ukraine and to facilitate the return of the displaced persons to the places of their permanent residence. Besides, such practical steps aimed at restoring Donbas would enable the children living in the areas of military actions to obtain access to safe environment and full access to exercising their rights for education and medical aid.

7. The psychological assistance that should be provided to children of war should account for different levels of children’s stresses. Therefore, the guidelines and the courses that will be developed for educational psychologists and social workers should be based on the primary need to conduct children’s psychodiagnostics. It should be noted that permanent examination of the situation should not only be conducted with regard to IDPs’ children (here, it should be compulsory), but also with regard to all other children, because war affects development of all children. And it is the psychological climate within the collective that the adaptation of IDPs’ children largely depends on.

8. If Ukraine is interested in preservation of its human potential, then it should create the conditions when families with children would not only be interested in evacuating from the occupied areas, but also would have possibilities to realise these interests. Therefore, in the nearest time, it is expedient to:

- solve the problems of permits to exit the occupied areas, namely, to allow the exit of families with children without the required documents;

- reviewthediscriminatingrequirementsthatrestrictprovisionoffinancialassistanceforaccommodationofIDPswithtwoormorechildren;

- determinetherequirementsfortheprimarysolvingoftheaccommodationproblemofthefamiliesleaving the occupied areas together with their children;

Moreover, it should be accounted for that the process of travelling itself for families with children is rather expensive. Respectively, it would be necessary to provide a state allowance to families with children so that they could leave the areas not controlled by Ukraine.

The practical mechanisms that would enable to evacuate children (including school-leavers) and families with children from the occupied areas and the areas of military actions should have the following results:

- reduction of the number of victims among children in case full-fledged military actions resume;

- formationofamechanismforprotectionofpatrioticchildrenandyouth;

- applicationofamechanismfordrawingtalentedandclever children (by creating a simplified procedure for entrance to Ukrainian higher educational institutions by the citizens living in occupation);

- cultivationinthemindsofthecitizensresidinginoccupationthat Ukraine will take care of them, despite the fact that they have to live in the occupied areas.

[1] Concept of the national and patriotic education of children and youth for 2015-2019

[2] Supplementary paragraph from the History of Ukraine for Form 11 Manual