Ukraine: Finding Home for Children on the Run from War in the East

The military conflict in Ukraine’s east has driven thousands of Donbas residents out of their homes, seeking safer abodes and better fortunes in other places across the country. Now they are called ‘internally displaced’, or IDPs, and many of them, literally, have to start their lives from scratch. And it is even more difficult for those families with children. In addition to financial hardship, many families must also cope with the psychological effects the war has had on their children. When the state fails in tackling these deeply emotional issues, volunteers come forward to help.

Forest Outpost is an exclusive camp in Dymer near Kyiv. The camp specializes in providing psychological rehabilitation programs to children who have directly faced the horrors of war. In the two years it was established by volunteers, it has received about 3,000 displaced children, as well as the children of soldiers who served in the war zone.

Hear Artem from Donetsk, one of 72 children who are currently staying at the Forest Outpost, speak about his time at the camp. They all left their frontline towns and villages in Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Internews provided a grant to Radio Liberty to produce this 360⁰ video (in Ukrainian with English subtitles). This video was created with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.

According to the regional media monitoring, conducted by one of our partners – the Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy, – regional and national media do not sufficiently inform the public about the problems IDPs face. At the same time, internally displaced persons do not always trust the authorities and the media. Internews is addressing these problems by providing better access to information and supporting trustworthy content production in the local media, online media, and TV channels. Internews is working to improve communication between the displaced, local authorities, host communities and the media in partnership with local media and civil society groups, making sure the voices of Ukrainian IDPs are heard. In addition, Internews promotes “tolerance journalism” and “conflict-sensitive reporting” in Ukraine. Over the past year, 130 journalists attended Internews-supported workshops as part of our journalist professional development projects. The topics included reporting about IDPs and conflict-affected communities, minorities, people with disabilities and representatives of other vulnerable groups.