SOS Children's Village Luhansk SOS Children's Villages has been present in Ukraine since 2003. In 2012, SOS Children's Villages started working in Luhansk to support families so that they can stay together, and to offer loving homes to children who have lost parental care. Since the armed conflict started in 2014, we have provided special assistance to affected families and children. The information below refers to the activities we have been carrying out in the country since 2003. The war is affecting the entire country, and our activities have changed to provide specialized assistance in this emergency situation. An increasing number of children and families need our support, both within Ukraine and in neighbouring countries. We are carefully monitoring the situation and adapting our assistance. Many families are struggling to make a living in difficult times Children in the care of SOS Children’s Villages take part in activities alongside local children (photo:SOS archives). Luhansk is a town with around 440.000 inhabitants located in south-eastern Ukraine. Before Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Luhansk was one of the country's largest industrial centres. As the economic circumstances of the country changed, Luhansk's economic conditions worsened in the mid-1990s. Factories and mines were shut, and unemployment increased. At the same time, there were cuts in social payments. Many decided to move away, to other parts of the country or abroad, in search of employment. Over 30 years later, many families continue to struggle to make ends meet. An increasing number of vulnerable children There is a growing number of children without parental care. Children who are most at risk include those brought up by single parents, parents who are young or those who are unemployed. Children with disabilities and those living with elderly people - often members of the extended family - are also at risk. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of people addicted to alcohol and drugs; this often has a negative effect on family life. Children often experience family violence. A recent survey found that nearly half of the Ukrainian population has been a victim of domestic violence and that around one third suffered violence when they were children. Many children who lose parental care continue to be placed in institutions. However, alongside the Ukrainian authorities, SOS Children's Villages has been working towards placing children in families instead. We are also working together to identify families who are struggling to care for their children; it is hoped that targeted support will keep the family together. What we do in Luhansk Since the conflict started in 2014, SOS Children’s Villages has supported families living in eastern Ukraine (photo: K.Ilievska). As stated above, the information below refers to the activities we have been carrying out in the country since 2003. Due to the current situation our activities are regularly changing to provide specialised support in this emergency. Support for families: Throughout the region, we work closely with local agencies to support families who are at risk of breaking down. We help parents so that they can continue to care for their children and ensure that the children are well looked after. Since 2014, we have adapted our support. Most recently, due to COVID-19 and the military actions, much of this support is provided remotely wherever possible. Care in families: When children can no longer live with their families, they can find a home in one of the families that receives support from SOS Children’s Villages. The family flats are integrated in the communities. Due to the escalating military tensions in the region, in mid-February 2022 SOS Children’s Villages advised all foster families to relocate to safer areas of the country. Many of these families have been evacuated to safety in Poland where they will continue to receive all the assistance they need. Support for young people: Given the unstable situation in the area, it is often hard for young people to become independent. SOS Children’s Villages provides support, training and activities so that they can live from their own means. Emergency programme: Since the conflict started in 2014 in eastern Ukraine, we have provided medical, educational, psychological and social support to children and families affected by the conflict. We will continue to provide assistance wherever possible.