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Ukraine's secret shame: Orphanages full of 88,000 forgotten children abandoned by their parents for being DISABLED

It is Ukraine’s secret shame – and it is heartbreaking. Across the country there are 88,000 ‘social orphans’, young disabled children abandoned by their parents and handed over to the state.
A grim hangover from the communist era, it is done in the belief that the state will do a better job of raising a disabled child.
The truth, as I found when I spent six months in Ukraine filming a documentary after hearing reports of severe neglect, is very different.
Take the case of Margarita, a seriously ill six-year-old who had been sent to hospital from the orphanage in which she had grown up.
The precise nature of her illness was unclear but she looked shocking. Beneath a pitiful blanket, an oxygen mask loosely taped to her emaciated face, she was the size of a toddler.
I asked what the plan was for her. There was no plan. As soon as her temperature dropped she would be sent back to the orphanage – even though its director, Nikolai Slavov, feared she would die.
Nikolai, who runs the Chernihvsky Institute, truly tries to do his best for those in his care, such as Lyosha, a bright and sparky ten-year-old with no arms or legs.
Lyosha at least stands a chance of experiencing some form of learning thanks to Nikolai, who has seen many of his charges leave as adults to end up in big, unfamiliar psychiatric institutions.
For others, the story is bleaker, as the anonymous graves in cemeteries attached to the institutes in which they have spent their short, unhappy lives prove.
This in a country which has spent £9 billion on improving infrastructure in preparation for co-hosting Euro 2012.
Ukraine says it is in favour of de-institutionalisation – but the number of children in such institutions has doubled in ten years, according to Unicef.
I hope readers will watch my film, Ukraine’s Forgotten Children, on BBC4 at 9pm tomorrow and feel as angry about this as I do.

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