OSCE/UN roundtable calls for strengthening protection of children against violence, including trafficking, amid the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine

New York/Vienna, 20 May 2022 - Strengthening protection of Ukrainian children against any form of violence, including trafficking, was the focus of the roundtable organized on 20 May 2022 by the Office of the OSCE Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, with the support of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine.

As the war in Ukraine continues, unprecedented numbers of people continue to seek refuge from violence in neighboring countries. According to UNICEF, more than 5.4 million people, half of them children, had fled Ukraine by 1 May 2022, These children need specific protection in the countries of transit or destination, in order for them not to go missing or become exploited by criminals. 

In host countries, authorities, civil society, businesses, and international organizations have taken steps to provide Ukrainian children with accommodation, healthcare, childcare and education. Despite these joint efforts, several child protection challenges persist.

These include:
•    differences between Ukraine's and EU child protection legislation; 
•    exchange of information between countries on the children in transit; 
•    consular registration; 
•    issues of legal adoption and guardianship.

At the roundtable, national anti-trafficking coordinators and child protection agencies of Ukraine and OSCE participating States hosting Ukrainian children, discussed how to improve the information exchange and ensure that every child is accounted for and has full access to protection and services.  Participants also stressed  that it is critical that the proposed solutions should be  first and foremost guided by the best interest of these children.

The discussion highlighted the need for a memorandum of understanding on unified and coordinated protection measures that can be replicated between child protection agencies in Ukraine and similar institutions in other OSCE participating States.

The Office of the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings recently issued a set of recommendations on immediate prevention measures, including specific measures for children.