Norway to increase support for protection of civilians in Ukraine

Norway is increasing its humanitarian support to Ukraine by a total of NOK 50 million. The funds will be channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UNICEF to promote civilian protection and the reintegration of deported children.

‘Russia's illegal war against Ukraine shows no sign of abating. Norway is deeply concerned about the conditions for Ukraine’s civilian population, not least for children, and is therefore intensifying its efforts to increase civilian protection,’ said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

This weekend, Mr Støre, together with leaders from some 90 countries, took part in the Summit on Peace in Ukraine hosted by Switzerland to discuss pathways to peace in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre co-chairing a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau co-chaired a session on finding solutions relating to the return of deported Ukrainians. Between them are Ukrainian representatives Dmytro Lubinets and Andriy Yermak. Credit: SMK

‘During the Summit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and I co-chaired the session with Ukraine and other participants on finding solutions relating to the return of deported children, other civilians and prisoners of war,’ said Mr Støre.

Thousands of children forcibly deported

The ICRC estimates that some 30 000 people are missing in Ukraine, and UNICEF reports that thousands of children have been forcibly deported since Russia started its war of aggression. Norway is now increasing its support to efforts to trace missing persons, deported children, civilian prisoners and prisoners of war.

‘Promoting respect for international humanitarian law is instrumental in preventing war crimes and reducing the suffering of innocent people. It is also essential if we are to provide adequate protection to civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those who need it most,’ said Mr Støre.

Canada and Norway are co-chairing the working group on the return of deported children, civilian prisoners and prisoners of war, the fourth point of the Ukraine Peace Formula.

‘It is heartbreaking to hear how thousands of children have been forcibly deported to Russia since the war started. Reintegrating these children is critical in order to safeguard their futures. It is essential, not least, to ensure that they have access to education, stable living conditions and good health services,’ said Mr Støre.

Reintegration of children

UNICEF plays an important role in efforts to reintegrate children in Ukraine. The protection of children is a key component of Norwegian humanitarian policy and is an area of high priority in Norway’s cooperation with Ukraine.

‘This is not only a moral obligation, but also an investment in Ukraine's future. Reintegration of these children will make it possible to give them the support they need to overcome the trauma of war and will, in the long term, help to build a stable and inclusive future for Ukraine as a whole. We are increasing our funding to UNICEF, the world's largest aid organisation for children, to enable us, together with the Ukrainian authorities, to step up the reintegration of children who have been deported and returned to Ukraine,’ said Mr Støre.

Norway has also made a point of increasing its support to the ICRC and the vital work it carries out related to prisoners of war and tracing missing persons. Norway has previously provided NOK 100 million in funding to the efforts of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICPM) in Ukraine. Norway is working actively to mobilise other countries to participate in a dialogue on these issues.

Norway was one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine in 2023. With the new allocations to be channelled through the ICRC and UNICEF, Norway has provided almost NOK 800 million in humanitarian assistance so far this year. Norway’s humanitarian support is part of the Nansen Support Programme for Ukraine.