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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                               


Ukraine's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Ukraine depends on imports to meet about three-fourths of its annual oil and natural gas requirements. Ukraine concluded a deal with Russia in January 2006 that almost doubled the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas. Disputes with Russia over pricing have led to periodic gas cut-offs.

Real GDP growth reached roughly 7% in 2006-07, fueled by high global prices for steel - Ukraine's top export - and by strong domestic consumption, spurred by rising pensions and wages.

Description: Ukraine

However, political turmoil in Ukraine as well as deteriorating external conditions are likely to hamper efforts for economic recovery.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Ukraine.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


‘The Way Home’ works to protect the rights and lives of street children in Odessa

Guy Degen, United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, Odessa Ukraine, 19 November 2007

[accessed 5 August 2011]

For thousands of street children in Ukraine, daily life is a fight for survival. Their rights are often violated and normal childhood has often been replaced by drug addiction and violence.  Miroslav, 17, for example, lives in squalor, with clothes and garbage strewn everywhere in the corner of an unused garage. He shares his makeshift home with two other youths – Vova and Taras. These are just a few of the estimated 4,000 homeless children on the streets of Odessa who lack the fundamental right to protection.

A STEP FORWARD - Inhaling glue or injecting a cocktail of cold and flu medicines are common ways of taking drugs among homeless young people. Sharing needles and engaging in unsafe sex make them one of the groups most at risk of contracting HIV in Ukraine.  Meanwhile, violence, sexual abuse and drug addiction often lead to crime. Many homeless children in Odessa say they expect to die on the streets.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The government was publicly committed to the defense of children's rights, but budgetary considerations severely limited its ability to ensure these rights. Few government bodies or NGOs aggressively promoted children's rights, except for a small number of faith‑based organizations that primarily worked with orphans and street children.

Education is free, universal, and compulsory until the age of 15; however, the public education system continued to suffer from chronic inadequate funding. Teachers were usually paid their salaries during the year, but other monetary benefits due them were not paid in some localities. Increasing numbers of children from poor families dropped out of school, and illiteracy, previously very rare, remained a problem. According to the State Statistics Committee, 5.731 million children attended primary and secondary school during the 2004-05 school year. The All‑Ukraine Committee for the Protection of Children reported that lack of schooling remained a significant problem among the rural population. The problem of growing violence and crime in and outside of schools persisted, particularly in the notoriously violent vocational schools, and discouraged some children from attending school.

The number of homeless children, usually children who fled poorly maintained orphanages or poor domestic conditions, remained high. Estimates of the number of homeless children varied widely. The vice premier for humanitarian and social affairs told the press on April 21 that there were approximately 150 thousand homeless children in the country, but the State Service for Minors reported on July 11 that there were only 30 thousand. In June the respected independent national newspaper Ukraina Moloda quoted experts as putting the number at 129 thousand

Concluding Observations Of The Committee On The Rights Of The Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 17 November 1995

[accessed 5 January 2011]

[14] The Committee regrets that appropriate measures have not yet been taken to effectively prevent and combat ill treatment of children in schools or in institutions where children may be placed. The Committee is also preoccupied by the existence on a large scale of child abuse and violence within the family and the insufficient protection afforded by the existing legislation and services in that regard. The problem of sexual exploitation of children also requires special attention.

Caring for the children who 'don't exist'

Organization protects Ukrainian youth from falling prey to human traffickers

Don Butler, The Ottawa Citizen, January 30, 2009

[accessed 4 September 2012]

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, nearly 120,000 Ukrainian men, women and children have been trafficked abroad - more than any other Eastern European country.   Some are effectively kidnapped. Others are enticed by promises of money and a better life. Some parents even sell their own daughters, Mr. Svystun said.   Sadly, that no longer surprises him. Since 2001, he has worked with Odessa's street children, estimated at 5,000, but in reality far more numerous. Some are as young as four.

About 80 per cent are "social orphans" who live on the street because their parents drink, use drugs or abuse them sexually or physically.   Officially, many don't even exist. Their parents never registered their births, so the state has no record of them.   "That's why it's very easy for human trafficking," said Mr. Svystun. "You can take somebody who doesn't exist, so nobody cares."

It all began with a meal on a minibus

Cassandra Jardine, The Telegraph, 15 Jan 2009

[accessed 5 August 2011]

These are the street children of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, just 40 minutes from the border with Russia.   As many as 200,000 such unaccounted-for children live rough in a country where daytime temperatures can be -20C (-4F). They live in subterranean dens under the manholes that cover the maintenance points for the city’s heating system, where conditions are cramped, insanitary and dangerous – many are burnt by the scalding pipes. But it is their means of survival in a country beset by the problems of adaptation after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Twelve-year-old Artom is one child among thousands in Kharkiv to have chosen the freedom of the streets over the regimentation of the orphanage. A lively, cheeky-looking boy, he says that he never knew his father, his mother drinks and his stepfather is “not kind”, so he was put in the orphanage three years ago. Soon after, he escaped to live underground ...

Charities: You can't help everybody, but everybody can help somebody

The Evening Telegraph, 15 May 2007

[accessed 5 August 2011]

It is a Ukranian tradition that at a certain time of the year, people leave food on the graves of their loved ones as a memorial. Starving street children, desperate for any scrap of food they can get their hands on, often raid the graveyard at night.

New shelter, clinic open to fill needs of Ukraine’s street children

Elisabeth Sewall, Assistant Editor, ePOSHTA, Apr 25 2007

[accessed 11 January 2017]

NEW DROP-IN CENTER - On April 20, Doctor’s of the World (DOW), a US-based NGO that provides underprivileged and vulnerable populations in different countries with quality healthcare resources, recently held the grand opening of a new drop-in center for street children in Chernihiv.

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development and the World Childhood Foundation, the center is based on an innovative outreach model, offering a multi-dimensional approach to healthcare for street children, combining medical, psychological, pedagogical, social and legal services.

Swiss extend help to Ukrainian street children

swissinfo (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation), Apr 18, 2007 -- adapted from an article in German by Erik Albrecht in Kiev and Odessa

[accessed 5 August 2011]

Ukraine has experienced strong economic growth since independence in 1991, but still faces a mountain of social problems inherited from the Soviet era.

The freshly painted edifices stand in stark contrast to the desolate Pioneer Park situated close by, right next to the famed Potemkin Stairs. It is in the empty park that Oleg, Igor and Sergey live - in a building that formerly housed an electricity transformer.

They are three of around 120,000 children who, according to Unicef, live on the streets in Ukraine. Many are orphans. Their families are among those that lost out following the break-up of the Soviet Union.  "Many parents were and still are forced to work in other countries. The children remain, in the best of cases, with a relative, but often they are left with a neighbour," said Tatyana Bassyuk.

Local man helps Ukraine's sewer children

Jim Haug, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Daytona Beach, 2006-10-16 

[accessed 5 August 2011]

There are no foster families in Ukraine "because no one can afford another child," he said.  Street children are often fleeing from abusive families or became orphans as a result of the AIDS epidemic.  They try to survive through begging, washing cars, stealing and becoming prostitutes. For escapism, "many sniff glue," Gamble said.

Mission Possible - CPA seeks to change the hardknock life of Ukrainian orphans

Sandra Gaffigan, June 1, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 August 2011]

THE UNDERGROUND - He happened across a homeless boy of about three rummaging through garbage for food. The sight made him think of his own children. He couldn’t conceive of them thrown out to fend for themselves. He came to learn that an estimated 800,000 children live on their own (abandoned, orphaned or fleeing abuse).

Japan grants aid for the street children of Ukraine

May 23, 2006  ß VIRUS DETECTED

[accessed 11 January 2017]

The government of Japan has allocated $34,000 for the Project of Sanitary Conditions Improvement for the Street Children in Kyiv.

Children Suffering in Kiev

Father's Care

[accessed 5 August 2011]

Crouched down near the manhole, Stas takes a defiant drag on his cigarette. His fingernails are covered with dirt, his oversized green jacket dirty and torn. He is 12 years old, and has been living on the streets of Kiev for two years.  "My mother's an alcoholic. She used to shout at me and hit me. She told me she didn't want me. So I left. Now I live here, at the manhole. I sleep on central heating pipes. The police sometimes pick us up, but they let us out again."

Prevention Of Addictive Behavior Among Street Children In Ukraine

Postupniy, O. M., Chernetska, T. M., Dovgopol, M. Y. (2002). Prevention of addictive behavior among street children in Ukraine. In: Drug abuse prevention: organizational and methodical aspects. Concluding materials of the international project, pp. 151–177. Kharkiv: Finart

[accessed 5 August 2011]

60,4% of neglected children are drug users.  Among homeless children, about 100% use drugs. The most popular drugs are glue and other chemical substances.  Most often (56,1%) children buy drugs, friends give drugs to 55,3% of the children, 8,8% get drugs in other ways (steal glue, cultivate cannabis and so on), parents offer drugs for 7,9%.

Program Feeds Street Kids in Ukraine

Jewish Telegraphic Agency JTA, Dnepropetrovsk Ukraine, Feb. 16, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 August 2011]

Vitalik and his friends don't know anything about Jews, and in fact they do not care much.  But twice a week they look for a white bus decorated with Hebrew, Russian and English words where they can get some food: a sandwich, some fruit and a can of juice, all packaged in a white plastic bag.

Rescuing Children from the Streets


[accessed 5 August 2011]

Without the help available through outreach programs run by the organizations and individuals of Father's House, MIR Foundation, Victory Church and EZRA Center, street children in Kiev have little hope of living a normal life or perhaps even of surviving. Most are between the ages of 7 - 14. Some are as young as 4 years old.

Help For Ukraine's Street Kids, From Two Us Women

Arie Farnam, The Christian Science Monitor, Kiev Ukraine, April 8, 2002

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 August 2011]

In the narrow space around the pipes in a Kiev sewer, 15 ragged children sleep huddled together for warmth. They range from 9-year-old Artyom Selivanov, the tough ringleader, to 16-year-old Natasha Dzuley, who crouches in a corner, clutching a small cloth doll.

The Way Home

The Way Home - Odessa charity fund of rehabilitation and social adaptation for homeless people

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 August 2011]

WHAT IS HAPPENING? - How do the children survive out in the street? They united into groups, worked out their rules and habits. They earn their living in every possible way honestly and not very honestly. They wash cars, carry heavy things, beg, steal, get engaged in prostitution… Naturally, the children who stay out of doors do not go to school.  – SC, CP

LifeNets Commits to Helping Orphans and Street Children in Vinogradov

Victor Kubik, LifeNets, July 26, 2001

[accessed 5 August 2011]

Children have had to fend for themselves.  Many of them are orphans or have lost one of their parents.  It is sad, but many of the children know their parents only as alcoholics and know only sickness, cold and hunger.  The children's lives are often accompanied with beatings, addition to drugs, criminality, prostitution and begging. Constantly we see children searching through garbage cans to something edible.

Kyiv's Street Children Find Guardian Angels

Lily Hyde, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, Kyiv, 21 April 1998

[accessed 5 August 2011]

On a weekly sortie into a rundown Kyiv suburb, a small group of teenagers lugs bags of bread and bouillon cubes to a street corner, where some younger children stand waiting.  The contrast between the two groups is stark. The first is clean, well dressed and smiling. The second is dusty, rumpled and ill clad in oversized sweaters that don't keep out the chilly Spring air.

ADRA Ukraine Nourishes Hungry Street Children

Todd Reese, ADRA International, May 28, 2003

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 August 2011]

"Street children live in abhorrent conditions including basements, abandoned buildings, city garbage sites, and sewage systems. ADRA is not only trying to feed the children, but also seeks to create positive changes in their lives," said Andriy Chuprikov, country director for ADRA Ukraine.

Kiev Street Children Ministry

William and Helen Lovelace, Global Ministries, Aug 12, 2002

[accessed 5 August 2011]

There are thousands of poor children on the street of Kiev. Some are without a home and there are others with an unbearable home life like Dima, who is a mixed-race child. Mixed race children have an extremely tough time, with racial feelings being are they are in Ukraine. Such children are often abandoned.

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