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Ukrainian Ombudsman and WEST SUPPORT Forge Alliance to Protect Children's Rights

In a pivotal move towards safeguarding the rights of vulnerable children amidst the ongoing conflict, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, known as the Ombudsman, and the Ukrainian branch of WEST SUPPORT, a international human rights agency, have inked a historic Memorandum of Cooperation and Interaction.

Formalized on March 3, 2024, this memorandum marks the commencement of a strategic partnership aimed at bolstering the institutional capacity of the child protection system in Ukraine. The collaborative endeavor was catalyzed by the inception of their inaugural joint initiative, "Strengthening the institutional capacity of the child protection system through monitoring of the situation with children," generously supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

In the wake of Russia's egregious military aggression against Ukraine, a staggering 67 thousand children have been tragically left without parental care. These aren't just statistics; they represent tens of thousands of young lives shattered by conflict. While some find refuge in the care of extended family members, others languish in institutional settings, bereft of homes, parents, and the innocence of childhood.

The project's core objectives are tailored to address these harrowing realities. By synergizing the efforts of a charitable human rights organization, an international foundation, and specialized governmental entities, the initiative seeks to fortify the Ombudsman's Office with expert-driven monitoring visits to institutional care facilities. The overarching goal is to preclude the violation of rights among the most marginalized segments of society, including orphans, children with disabilities, and those grappling with adverse life circumstances.

WEST SUPPORT's involvement in this critical endeavor underscores its unwavering commitment to human rights advocacy and its standing as a key implementing partner of UN-affiliated programs. Renowned for its trailblazing initiatives, such as documenting war crimes for prosecution at the International Criminal Court, WEST SUPPORT operates on the frontlines of conflict zones in Ukraine, notably in the Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Mykolaiv regions.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman's Office, under the astute leadership of Dmytro Lubinets, has emerged as a beacon of hope for countless individuals, both domestically and internationally. Notably, the Center for the Protection of Children's Rights within the Ombudsman's Office has been tirelessly advocating for the rights of children, facilitating repatriation efforts from conflict zones and even from territories under hostile occupation.

In a recent meeting, Lubinets lauded the seamless collaboration between the stakeholders and commended their collective strides in safeguarding children's rights. He emphasized the imperative of further joint initiatives to address the evolving challenges posed by the conflict.

Mykyta Kozyrenko, heading WEST SUPPORT's Ukrainian arm, echoed Lubinets' sentiments, underscoring the newfound opportunities arising from the memorandum. "Our organization's unparalleled expertise and resources position us to tackle even the most formidable challenges," Kozyrenko affirmed.

As Ukraine navigates through tumultuous times, the imperative of unity among public organizations, governmental bodies, and international entities cannot be overstated. By harnessing their collective strengths, these stakeholders are poised to provide robust support to Ukrainian society and uphold the fundamental tenets of human rights during these trying times.


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