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12,000 Ukrainian children have fled war to Finland

Ukrainian children in Finland will need protection for a long time, and those working with them need trauma expertise, said the Children's Ombudsman.

Onatska Maryna poikansa Mykhailon kanssa rauhanmarssilla.
Maryna Onatska and her son Mykhailo at a peace event organised in support of Ukraine in Helsinki last Saturday. Image: Jaani Lampinen / Yle
Yle News

So far around 12,000 Ukrainian children who fled the Russian invasion to Finland, according to the Ombudsman for Children in Finland. About a third of the 36,000 Ukrainians who have applied for temporary protection are children, an unprecedented number in Finnish history.

About 600 Ukrainian children have arrived in Finland without a parent or guardian. Some of them have arrived alone and some with another relative.

Unaccompanied children in Finland live either in reception centres for minors, with relatives in reception centres for adults or in private accommodation.

"It is important for municipalities and wellbeing services counties to be prepared for the fact that Ukrainian children in Finland will need protection for a long time. Special attention should be paid to trauma expertise, which is needed by those working with refugee children in need of protection," Children's Ombudsman Elina Pekkarinen said on Wednesday.

Children receiving temporary protection have the right to preschool and basic education, but are not required to attend school during the first year. Some Ukrainian children are also participating in distance education in Ukraine, but Finnish officials say this complements rather than replaces Finnish schooling.

As of last year, all young people in Finland must study until they graduate from secondary education or reach the age of 18.

27% of Ukrainian respondents do not plan to return

Also on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry released results of a survey of Ukrainians who have fled the war to Finland. There were 2,136 responses to the online survey in June and July.

One third of respondents said plan to return to Ukraine either after the end of the war or earlier. Twenty-seven percent said that they do not plan to return to Ukraine.

Almost 40 percent said they have not yet decided where they would like to live, depending on developments in Ukraine and employment opportunities in Finland.

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