As of September 2023, over 5 million refugees have been recorded in Europe according to the UN Refugee Agency. Of those 5 millions, Save the Children estimates that 40% are children. These children have had to leave their whole lives behind – family, friends, school, everything they held dear – to start over again in a new place. Although the Russia’s aggression against Ukraine began in 2022, it remains vital that we continue to keep our eyes open to the challenges faced by these children and support their integration in their host countries.
For many of these children, their experiences at school are their primary contact with their host country. They are meeting local children there, children who may not understand what is happening in Ukraine or how to be sensitive to their new classmate.

The heartfelt children’s book ‘The Girl Who Kept Her Eyes Open’ aims to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people fleeing war and their rights. The European Commission has teamed up with renowned Ukrainian illustrator, Anna Sarvira, whose illustrations have been exhibited worldwide. Most notably, her depiction of everyday Ukrainian life under the threat of war was featured by the Museum of Modern Art
(MoMA) New York.
The book tells the captivating story of a Ukrainian refugee child meeting a particularly observant little girl in her new school. Through their inspiring journey, the book beautifully and simply illustrates the importance of paying attention to others and offering them support in uncertain times, such as war.
The book was conceptualised as an extension of the European Commission’s ‘Keep your eyes open’ campaign to raise awareness on victims’ rights in the EU. The overarching campaign is part of the first-ever EU strategy on victims’ rights, which aims to ensure that all victims of all crimes understand how to exercise their fundamental rights and where to go for support.


>>Read more about the campaign backgrounder

>>Click here to go to Reading Corner and download the book

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