Honouring Ukraine’s Invictus Team and children impacted by conflict
Members of the first-ever Ukrainian team for the international Invictus Games visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on 24 April 2017. Their participation in the games is being supported by a NATO Trust Fund project on Medical Rehabilitation.
The visiting group included war veterans and disabled servicemen who have fought in eastern Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict in 2014. They were winners of the Ukrainian Games of Heroes competition held to select Team Ukraine for this year’s Invictus Games. Named Invictus, after the Latin for "unconquered" or "undefeated", the Games provide a venue for disabled veterans and servicemen and women to compete in sporting events such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing. Established by Prince Harry, the first event took place in 2014 in London, the United Kingdom. This year’s event will be taking place in Toronto, Canada in September.
The visitors met representatives of NATO’s International Staff as well as member states to discuss issues ranging from NATO-Ukraine relations to current and future security challenges. “It is better to see once than hearing a hundred times,” one of the participants said. They also made a presentation on the Games of Heroes competition and participated in a special CrossFit session. During their trip, they also visited Allied Joint Force Command in Brunssum, the Netherlands.
On the occasion of the nomination of Team Ukraine for Toronto, at a gala concert in Kyiv on 23 April, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed his thanks for the support provided to Ukrainian servicemen and women in the area of medical and psychological rehabilitation under the NATO Trust Fund.
To coincide with the visit, the Ukrainian Mission to NATO organised a photo exhibit entitled “Children in War”, which gave a glimpse into the lives of the many Ukrainian children who have suffered as a consequence of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Opening the exhibit, Vice-Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze underlined the magnitude of the conflict’s impact on children: it is estimated that 200 have been killed and 500 wounded; 250,000 are among the internally displaced people and 50,000 are without access to school.
As NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Tacan Ildem underlined, “Exhibits like this remind us that we should not and must not forget about the children. They remind us that while the plight of these children may not make the news each day, it is them who are bearing much of the pain and trauma of war. It is them who will have to deal with the aftermath of what’s happening today”.