Childcare is a critical need for women refugees. It must be made a priority

Childcare for Ukrainian Refugees
Batten Professor Lucy Bassett and co-author write on the importance of childcare for refugees in a new op-ed for The New Humanitarian. (Photo by Zohra Bensemra/REUTERS)

The importance of childcare has long been overlooked in humanitarian responses, but the war in Ukraine offers a stark reminder of why it needs to be raised up the agenda, both now and for future crises.

The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, estimates that 90 percent of the more than 6.5 million refugees who have fled Ukraine are women or children under the age of 18. In Moldova, which has received the highest number of refugees per capita to date, 65 percent are women and 36 percent are children, with the zero to six age range representing the largest group.

Millions of Ukrainian refugee women now find themselves as single heads of households, shouldering the enormous burden of searching for safety, stability, and opportunities to work while also caring for children and dealing with the psychological toll of the conflict and separation from family members and loved ones.

Given all they are facing, it’s difficult to imagine how women refugees will be able to manage without targeted support in the form of childcare.

Yet, despite the groundswell of aid initiatives that have cropped up along Ukraine’s borders, few efforts are focused on children under five years old. Similarly, neighbouring countries have begun to enrol school-age children into their education systems, but there are few organised efforts to provide childcare to the youngest refugees.

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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