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Disabled children abused in Ukraine orphanages

a teenage boy suffering from severe malnourishment
a teenage boy suffering from severe malnourishment Image credit: bbc.co.uk

A BBC investigation reveals disabled children are being neglected and abused in orphanages across Ukraine.

The human rights officials are now urging the Ukrainian government to restore its “historic wrongs”.

Over 100,000 children and yo ung people were living in institutions before war broke out in February, when the country came under attack they were sent back to their families without any support, becoming victims of trafficking or living on the streets.

But there are still thousands living in the approximately 700 institutions across Ukraine, despine being classed as “orphanages” 90% have their own family.

Most are from parents who were advised to hand over their disabled children to the state because Ukrainian society believes they are better cared for in institutions.

The belief dates back before the country came under fire in February 2022, for many years disabled people in Ukraine were deemed worthless.

Gerard Quinn, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, told the BBC: "All wars reveal historic wrongs in the heat of the moment, and institutionalisation is one of those.

"It is time to act, to press a reset button to the future. In doing that we need a clear commitment from the Ukrainian government to end its system of institutionalisation."

Quinn said he wants to see disabled people being made a priority when Ukraine rebuilds itself after the war.

In June the BBC visited five orphanages based in the south of Ukraine, in one they found an 18-year-old boy tied to a bench, he had been staying at the institution since he was five.

UN experts have said there is evidence Ukraine is only allowing countries to take disabled children if they were confined in an institution.

"Third countries have a heavy responsibility to assist Ukraine to have a better future for its citizens, including children with disabilities,” they told the BBC.

Gerald Quinn said it was time Ukraine pressed a “reset button to the future” to protect their disabled children.