Due to the conflict in Ukraine that started on 24 February, a large-scale movement of population, mostly women and children, has started towards neighboring countries Republic of Moldova, Poland and Romania. The majority of refugee population consists of women and children, including 47% children, due to the restrictions on men aged 18-60 leaving the country. Children and their families require access to basic food, hygiene and medical care, as well as systematic protection services including to address gender-based violence, violence against children and to access psychosocial care. Key child protection risks include the separation of children from their parents and families is a key concern, with those separated from all family members at greatest risk as well as those being evacuated from child care institutions in Moldova – it is estimated that at least 2% of children are separated or unaccompanied. Most women are entering and travelling without male family members, which creates significant protection risks and limits the ability of mothers to provide quality care for children. Children and female caregivers have also experienced or witnessed violence and the stress and uncertainty of displacement, resulting in high levels of psychosocial distress.
The Moldovan Government’s approach to coordinating humanitarian response to people on the move, resulted in general response actions to address humanitarian emergencies in all main sectors covered. Having in mind the vulnerability of children and their families, many organizations working in child protection are delivering support to children and families entering into the Republic of Moldova, with significant number of organisations providing or planning to provide child protection services including government authorities.
The need for coordination on child protection at national and subnational levels prompts the formation of a Child Protection Sub-Working Group (CP SWG). The CP SWG will work as a support mechanism to overall sector coordination structure for the refugee response agreed to with the authorities and under the existing child protection coordination structure spearheaded by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.
The CP SWG shall be a forum through which organizations with child protection programs in Moldova can undertake strategic planning on child protection, coordination interventions, seek consensus on issues, and create partnerships and linkages for better prioritization of available resources and commitment to minimum standards of response with an overall goal of enhancing the protection of affected children. The WG will have the objective of attaining an effective and predictable response to child protection issues in Moldova through improved coordination among agencies involved in child protection programming.