Ukrainian orphans share joy of children's day in Turkiye

Ukrainian orphans, brought to Turkiye amid Russia-Ukraine war, enjoy April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day events.

Ukrainian orphans share joy of children's day in Turkiye

Ukrainian orphans who had arrived in Turkiye due to the Russia-Ukraine war, enjoyed an event held in the country as part of its April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day. 

The April 23 celebrations, which coincides with the anniversary of the country's parliament, focus on children after Ataturk, the first speaker of the country's legislature, dedicated the day to children as the nation's future.

The special day in Turkiye is marked by a festival for children, and public offices, schools, and the private sector also hold programs.

After discussions between Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan and her Ukrainian counterpart Olena Zelenska, children at Ukrainian orphanages were evacuated to Turkiye in eight separate groups. Approximately 1,000 children were placed in hotels in the southern city of Antalya.

Trying to forget the traces of war, the children, who came to Antalya with orphanage staff, were not forgotten on April 23 as they also celebrated world's first and only children's day.

The events were organized in cooperation with provincial social services, Yunus Emre Institute, and Turkish Red Crescent, and took place at hotels where the children were staying.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ukraine's Antalya Consul General Emir Rustamov voiced his gratitude to Turkiye for organizing such an event.

"These children were in orphanages in Ukraine before the war started. Now, as a true friend of ours, the Turkish state has said: 'These children are in our care'," he said.

Rustamov described Turkiye's position as "very good and notable" and thanked Ankara on behalf of his country.

The Ukrainian diplomat said there were around 1,200 Ukrainian orphans in Turkiye, with most staying in Antalya and another group in the northwestern province of Sakarya.

He hoped the war would end as soon as possible and that no more children or other innocents would die.

Local social services head Abdullah Caliskan said for his part that they had planned such an event in order to help children forget the events from the war, "even for a little bit."

"Children are our future. Our aim is to motivate them. Children will make the world beautiful," he said.

Hüseyin Demir