14 September 2022 - Brussels, Ukraine

In response to today’s State of the European Union speech, Director of Save the Children Europe Ylva Sperling issued the following statement:

Olesia with her new backpack

Olesia* is 10 and fled Odessa with her parents, brother and sister because of the war in Ukraine. 

BRUSSELS, 14 September 2022 –  “In today’s State of the European Union address, President Ursula von Der Leyen spoke of the massive challenges that children face as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. 

Since February, over 3 million children have been internally displaced and approximately 2 million children have fled Ukraine to the EU. Save the Children welcomes the President's recognition of the harm children face, her commitment to fund the aid response, including the specific investment of 100 million EUR to reconstruct destroyed schools, and her steadfast solidarity with refugees from Ukraine.  

We also strongly agree with President von Der Leyen that the welcome shown to Ukrainian refugees in the EU must not be an exception, and should be the blueprint for moving towards a Europe that treats all children on the move with dignity and respect. Today, too many children at Europe’s borders face violence and denial of asylum or adequate services - the response to the arrival of refugees from Ukraine shows that another way is possible. 

The impacts of the conflict extend far beyond children from Ukraine, however, and children in Europe and around the world are at a critical juncture. The economic shocks from the Ukraine conflict are creating an unprecedented energy and cost-of-living crisis in the EU, and President von Der Leyen’s recognition that much more needs to be done is important. Key instruments like the Child Guarantee should be fully and urgently implemented and EU funds such as the ESF+ should be strategically allocated to support struggling children and families.  

The shocks are also exacerbating an already critical global food crisis, with some 60 million children around the world acutely malnourished. These children must not be forgotten or deprioritised.    

We welcome President von Der Leyen’s commitments to future generations, particularly in the face of the escalating climate crisis. Following through on climate commitments and redoubling efforts to phase out fossil fuels are of critical, existential importance.  

We strongly support the need to ensure the ideas and values of the younger generation are at the centre of the EU’s democratic process, and welcome the announcement that 2023 will be Europe’s Year of Education and Training. Save the Children looks forward to engaging in the upcoming Child Participation platform to ensure that the views of children, especially marginalized and vulnerable children, are included in the upcoming European Convention.  

Save the Children will continue working with and for children in Europe and around the world, and is ready to support the European Union institutions and Member States in delivering their commitments to build a fairer society.” 


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