A report on Russia’s crimes against Ukrainian children, a unique book and an exhibition — the Voices of Children Charitable Foundation reviewed the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the context of child rights protection.
Today, all children in Ukraine are children of war. Millions have been separated from their familiar environment, tens of thousands are waiting for their parents from the front, thousands — continue to live in dangerous conditions: in basements, shelters near the front line and in the territories occupied by Russia.Olena Rozvadovska, Chairwoman of the Board of the Voices of Children Foundation
10-year-old Nazar Romanenko, one of the authors of the War Through the Voices of Children book, left the Luhansk region on the first day of the invasion: “I was scared, I didn’t know where we were going. I drew in the car on the way, and it helped me calm down. Then I told my mom: ‘We haven’t lived long enough, I want to live longer’. Now we are living in someone else’s house and I dream of the day when I can come back home.”
The monitoring report reflects a terrible reality: during the year of full-scale invasion, russia has committed thousands of crimes against Ukrainian children and violated a number of international legal norms. As of today, prosecutors are conducting pre-trial investigations in 2,607 criminal proceedings on crimes committed against children. The Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine has identified 54 torture cells, some of which were used to detain children. The Office of the Prosecutor General has established 12 cases of sexual violence against children committed by russians.
According to Andriy Chernousov, a member of the Foundation’s board and a leading expert at the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research, state and international institutions can work together to protect Ukrainian children:
The state must redesign child protection mechanisms and finalize the reform of the children’s service. In turn, it is important for international and civil society organizations to work on returning abducted children to their homes, documenting crimes committed by Russia and helping to bring it to justice.
This opinion was echoed by Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties, an organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022: “We are documenting Russia’s crimes so that sooner or later every person who committed war crimes will be punished. But we have one more goal. We tell these stories to the world in order to stop it. Because when you cannot rely on legal instruments, you can always rely on the solidarity of people. And I believe that together we can do a lot to protect children in this war and make their lives better.”
It is worth trying to preserve a normal childhood in abnormal conditions, psychologists say. If you create a safe environment for a child, where there is a place for communication, meetings with friends, creativity, and reflection, most children will be able to restore their emotional integrity. That is why the Voices of Children Charitable Foundation has been providing psychological and psychosocial assistance to children affected by the war since 2015.
Emotions, Curiosity, Imagination, Discovery, Family, Nature, Games, Home, Travel, Dreams — these are the sections of the book War through the Voices of Children. Quotes from an almost ordinary childhood. The book contains around one hundred children’s quotes and works by illustrators, artists, photographers and children themselves. The exhibition features 20 illustrations, including works by Nikita Titov, Oleksandr Grekhov, Iryna Vale, singer Jamala and her son Rakhman.
By scanning a QR code, you can hear a child telling his or her own story. In a separate room, you can hear the voice of a child from the occupation.
All donations for the book will be used for psychological assistance to children.
Exhibition will be on display until March 24, admission is free.
Address: 15 Yaroslaviv Val St., Kyiv (Peremoga Space, 5th floor).