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Poverty in Ukraine leads to abandoned babies

© UNICEF video
The care and support offered by the Centre of Motherhood and Childhood helps babies and their mothers stay together.

KHERSON, Ukraine/NEW YORK, 9 February 2005 - Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Eastern Europe and also one of the poorest, with children often bearing the brunt of chronic poverty. Living standards have declined dramatically over the past decade and many families – particularly those with single parents - are living below the poverty line.

Amid these tough social and economic conditions, some mothers cannot cope and either abandon their children or give them up to orphanages. More than 100,000 children in Ukraine currently live in such institutions.

But at the Centre of Motherhood and Childhood, a project supported by UNICEF and its partners in Kherson, they are given the chance to stay with their mothers.

“The main task is for us to prevent women from sending their babies to orphanages,” says Lorentseva Tatyana, the Centre’s psychologist. “What we did first, was to go to maternity hospitals with doctors to see why women were abandoning their babies.”

The research revealed that many women had been abandoned themselves – thrown out of their homes when their parents or boyfriends discovered they were pregnant. It happened to 27-year-old Elena, who found welcome and support at the Centre of Motherhood and Childhood.

“The Centre helps me solve all my problems,” she says. “I come here and they have everything. They feed us, we have a place to live, the mothers get clothes for the children, and they provide us with medical care, legal and social support. They even help us receive financial support from the government.”

Since opening in September 2003, the Centre has helped 52 children stay with their mothers – including Elena and her baby son. But it’s the only centre of its kind in Ukraine. UNICEF is now working with the government to try to open more centres like the one in Kherson.




9 February 2005:
UNICEF’s Thomas Nybo reports from Kherson, Ukraine, on efforts to help families stay together.

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