Standing With Ukraine But Not In This: Ukraine’s Disabled Young People

Once again the news is filled with horror; once again awful scenes from Ukraine fill our TV screens; but this time it’s not the war with Russia that makes us shudder, it’s footage of the special needs institutions, places of utter despair and heart-wrenching abuse and misery, that breaks our hearts.

We’ve seen it before; the spotlight was shone on this appalling situation several months ago, but seemingly nothing is changing. This pre-dates the war, it is not a result of the conflict although the war has made it a whole lot worse, but it was bad before; very bad.

To see the latest reports on this, here’s a link to today’s BBC News report:

It’s hard reading and watching, but there is also some hope. In some cases families have gone to other countries, as a result of fleeing the war, and found that they can get support for their children that they never dreamed of before. Like Roman, aged 20, who has Cerebral Palsy and Learning Difficulties. Never having been given the opportunity to access education in Ukraine, he is now accessing learning in Poland.

Ivan, a Ukrainian young person now receiving education and support in Poland

We need to see more significant change happening across Ukraine and other places in the world where this awful story is repeated. Sadly this is the ‘norm’ in many countries, not just Ukraine, but it shouldn’t be. Any country, whatever their economy is like (and I realise that I say this from a place of privilege, although see the link to a more local horror story later), should care for the most vulnerable in their communities first; it should be their priority.

Here’s what I had to say about this a few months ago:

And a little further back as I looked at the impact of the war on Ukraine’s disabled children:

And here’s that more local ‘horror story’ before we start thinking this can’t happen in our country:

This needs to change; last time I wrote on this I tried reaching out to the BBC, to my local MP, to other disability organisations, but nothing is different. This Christmas time, can we really relax and enjoy the excesses that this season brings, without trying to make a difference for our fellow human beings that are existing in conditions that it would be illegal to keep animals in here (and rightly so)? Can we shut out the images of Roman, Ivan, Lillia (and they are the ‘lucky’ ones) and the tens of thousands of children and young people whose situation is still unbearable?

Once again, it falls to us to raise their story, to shout it through whatever channels we have access to, to tell people who can bring influence and perhaps cause change. The greatest Christmas gift we can give to the disabled children of Ukraine is to see them, to hear them, to not forget them but to fight for them.

I ask you the same question that I asked you five months ago…

We have to do something, will you join me?


This blog and previous blog on this story © Mark Arnold/The Additional Needs Blogfather. All BBC News content and images, © BBC.

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