The current war in the Ukraine has brought into sharp focus once again that our world is beset by violence and destruction – from Afghanistan and Palestine to Myanmar, from Yemen to Sudan, Ethiopia and beyond. There are more infants and family refugees than there have ever been. Of the 26 million refugees worldwide, over half are children under the age of 18 years. The devastating effect this has on people is seen on our screens with stories of loss and pain. Infants, toddlers and young children are however not able to tell their stories, but their trauma is profound.
Three years ago the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) published a position paper on Infants’ rights in wartime. It points out how despite numerous areas of violent conflicts globally, little attention is paid to the enormous price that infants, toddlers, and young children pay. It states that “The needs and rights of all children are the same everywhere: nutritious food, adequate healthcare, a decent education, shelter and a secure and loving family. These are disregarded at times of war.”
The above basic needs are supplied by the adults in the society into which the child is born. A parent or caregiver who is suffering from the psychological effects of trauma may be less able to provide infants, toddlers, and young children with what they need. The effects of war thus reverberate through all the layers of care on which the physical and emotional survival and growth of the young child depends.
We express our solidarity with parents and caregivers of infants, toddlers and young children in all parts of the world affected by violent conflicts.
What we can do: we recommend supporting/donations to UNICEF which could reach young children and families affected by the wars. Donation website: https://www.unicef.org/take-action
Campbell Paul, President,
Astrid Berg, President-Elect,
Kaija Puura, Executive Director