12,000 Ukrainian children have fled war to Finland

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

Maryna Onatska and her son Mykhailo at a peace event organized last Saturday to support Ukraine in Helsinki. Image: Jaani Lampinen / Yle

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

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

Unaccompanied minors in Finland live either in minor shelters, with relatives in adult shelters or in private accommodation.

“It is important that municipalities and provinces of welfare services are prepared for the fact that Ukrainian children in Finland need protection for a long time. Special attention should be paid to trauma expertise, which is needed for those working with refugee children in need of protection “, Ombudsman for children Elina Pekkarinen said Wednesday.

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Children under temporary protection have the right to pre-primary and primary education, but do not have to attend school in the first year. Some Ukrainian children also participate in distance learning in Ukraine, but Finnish officials say it complements rather than replaces Finnish education.

Since last year, all young people in Finland have to study until they graduate from secondary education or have reached the age of 18.

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27% of Ukrainian respondents do not plan to return

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

A third of respondents said they plan to return to Ukraine after the war has ended or earlier. Twenty-seven percent said they have no intention of returning to Ukraine.

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