Editorial: The first years of life must be the first priority
The first years of life must be the first priority in times of peace, and even more in times of war.
Children represent a country’s most precious treasure and the treasure of our world. Right now, millions of Ukrainian children are displaced, in fear and danger, going through traumatic experiences alongside their families. Shelter, food, warm clothing, clean water, electricity are necessities to ensure health, safety, and survival. These basic necessities are at risk. Ukrainian children must be protected; they need all of us to show them that they matter.
We never imagined that children in Europe would witness insecurity and anxiety caused by a war on the European territory. We must do everything in our power to provide Ukrainian children and their families with all the support they need in Ukraine and in all European countries where many will seek refuge.
Let’s not forget that children who have faced hardships even before the conflict – children living in severe poverty, Roma children, children with disabilities, children in institutions – are at an even greater risk. These children and their families already struggle with great injustices, which stand to be exacerbated in such dire times. Every young child deserves to be seen, listened to, protected, and cared for.
We call on all governmental and private organizations in Europe to prioritize and coordinate funds, human resources, and interventions to ensure that young Ukrainian children and their families are safe and protected, that their basic needs are met. Additional support services will be critical in the neighbouring countries that welcome displaced children and families.
Support will be necessary to provide children with spaces where they can play, learn, and socialize with peers, and feel as little fear and anxiety as possible, and for their parents and caregivers to cope with the overwhelming feeling of insecurity about their future.
Young children must come first.
Eurochild and ISSA,
First Years, First Priority Campaign Co-leaders
We stand by our members and all organizations that strive to support families with young children in Ukraine, and those in neighbouring countries supporting refugee families. We need to do all that we can to help them in their efforts! You can help too – contact us if you want to support!