By Jude Turbyne

TWO years of wall-to-wall coverage of the pandemic. Two years of anxiety. And just as it felt as if that might be ending, the war in Ukraine began.

I’m CEO of a charity committed to improving children’s lives, but I know the impact of war on the youngest in our society disturbs us all. The vulnerability of children to conflict can be profound. Children in war zones are likely to go hungry, fall ill with preventable disease, lose their chance at an education and be at greater risk of sexual violence and mental trauma.

It becomes almost impossible for children’s rights to be fulfilled in a war setting. The impact is exacerbated depending on different personal characteristics, including gender, age, disability status, ethnicity, LGBT+ identity and religion.

Already more than 1.5 million children have fled the violence in Ukraine. In Yemen, at least 11 million children are estimated to need humanitarian assistance. Yemen is not even number one in the top 10 of humanitarian crises published by the International Rescue Committee; it is third behind Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

What can we do in the face of this? While we empathise, there’s a feeling of powerlessness too. We can’t solve global problems individually.

But solidarity takes many forms. It can be about donating or protesting. It can also mean being more proactive and engaged internationally, building knowledge, networks and understanding. In our effort to protect children’s rights we can learn from, and show unity with, expert organisations around the globe.

The best way to help is to donate money. It might feel tempting to collect clothes and food but it’s much easier to source these closer to the conflict. A good route for donation is the Disasters Emergency Committee. It brings together 15 leading UK charities to raise funds fast and you can donate to other emergencies through their website.

As Ukrainian refugees arrive here, there will be ways of offering practical support locally. The Scottish Refugee Council is a great source of information about what’s happening to help refugees in your community.

Many in Scotland will be affected by the Ukrainian crisis because of links with the country. Children here also want to help. In a recent blog, the Children’s Commissioner, Bruce Adamson, talked about communicating common cause and how important the support of young people in other countries is to children in war zones. Messages and creative work sent to his office from young people will be shared with the Children’s Commissioner in Ukraine.

Engagement with Europe is vital. We are members of Eurochild, a network advocating for children across Europe. A wealth of resources on the Ukrainian conflict is available on their website.

Here I’ve reflected mostly on Ukraine. But I’m so aware of the many children around the world whose rights are undermined through their experience of war or environmental collapse. Our vision is that "all children in Scotland have an equal chance to flourish". How much better would our world be if, globally, all children had that chance?

Jude Turbyne is CEO of national charity Children in Scotland