"Parents were shot and mothers were raped in front of their children. This is the horror that Russian troops made in the Kyiv region. There is a lot of pain. After the Russian troops left, there were many corpses of civilians, even teenagers were raped there."
It has been heartbreaking to speak with our colleagues in Ukraine and hear them talk about the horrifying impact of the war.
Earlier this year, Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv and Zhytomyr areas, where many ACET Ukraine staff members and volunteers are based. Whilst relieved that they felt physically safer, the team shared stories with us of the atrocities that were revealed by this withdrawal.
It’s no shock that the United Nations reports that 'Sexual violence is the most hidden crime being committed against Ukrainians.’
(Of course, in the east of the country, the fighting continued and we are yet to see the full extent of the impact on those living there).
With volunteers in towns and cities all over Ukraine, the young people ACET Ukraine work with have all been affected personally by the war, with some sheltering in situ, and others internally displaced within Ukraine or seeking refuge across the border in neighbouring countries.
As the active conflict becomes focussed on the Donbas region and communities begin to reopen in areas where the Russians have left, there is an acute and growing need for specialist psychosocial trauma-informed support.
Research shows that children who’ve lived through war and conflict suffer a high level of psychological problems, and children who go through trauma experience physical brain changes that affect impulse, anxiety, and emotional regulation.
Adolescents with cumulative exposure to war and those with PTSD resulting from war events have been found to have significantly higher rates of substance abuse and alcohol addiction.
Ukraine already had one of the highest suicide rates in Europe - and the mental health burden has significantly increased since the start of the war.
We have been amazed and inspired by the resilience, determination and love of the ACET Ukraine team to keep working in spite of the war and really want to support them the best we can.
Appeal - £20K for Ukraine
Thank you to those of you who have already given to our Ukraine Appeal. Every £1 you have given will make such a difference.
If you would still like to take part, please click HERE.
The money we raise together will provide trauma-informed counselling and mental health support to assist these young people as the war continues - and for the aftermath. This psychosocial support is critical for their emotional healing as many have been displaced from their homes, experienced the bombing of their cities, been trapped in bomb shelters for weeks, and witnessed or been victims of sexual assault.