Own War Child - A Beautiful Thought
Childrens' suffering and death in the war in Yugoslavia has awaked many Finns to offer their genuine help. Families have offered their homes temporarily for children starving from hunger and battles, much the same way as Sweden helped little Finns half a century ago. Sincere helpers feel misunderstood as officials and humanitarian organizations are not prepared to transfer the children.
Peoples’ good intentions crash into a cold wall of bureaucracy. Most people think the peace and wellbeing of the Finnish homes would compensate for the separations of children from own parents, the alternative being horrors of war and danger of death. What joy is there for a child of a mother, a father and own culture if he/she doesn’t stay alive? Research in England and Finland on the transfers of children during wartime point out that physical safety doesn’t mean everything.
Many children who have been separated from their loved ones have suffered from insecurity their whole life and they feel bitterness in spite of the physical safety they received. We know better now than 50 years ago just how devastatig separation from the family can be for a little child. Also the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child, signed by Finland last year, states that families must be kept together if possible.
Temporary transfers of children should be considered only as a last resort unless the child and his/her family cannot otherwise be protected. A carefully planned adoption is something totally different from receiving a child temporarily out of whim. The sad fate of children taken from Romania into England show that genuine feelings and good intentions do not always last under the pressures of ordinary life. People must have a chance to help but the means have to be considered and prepared well.
Source: Editorial in Helsingin Sanomat, August 8th 1992.
Task for students: Read the following editorial from Helsingin Sanomat. What does the newspaper think about taking in war children from Yugoslavia? How reasons does the paper give for its stance on the issue?