Graphic novels aim to draw public attention to the consequences of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and the problem of domestic violence

Illustration: UNDP in Ukraine

Kyiv, 16 June 2021 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine has produced a series of graphic novels on social topics, including the consequences of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and preventing domestic violence.

The graphic novels aim to draw public attention to the problems facing former ATO/JFO combatants on their return to civilian life, the challenges facing young people suddenly caught up in the armed conflict, and how children and young adults can protect themselves and their peers against domestic violence. All of the stories told in the comics were based on real life events.

UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme Manager Victor Munteanu said that using a creative and out-of-the-box approach to portraying modern problems in Ukraine would not only help increase public interest in the topics of the armed conflict and domestic violence, but also motivate the public to help those in need.

“The consequences of the ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, and the problems of the reintegration of ex-combatants and domestic violence are topics that are sometimes difficult to talk about – it’s often very hard to find the right words,” Munteanu said.

“We’re convinced that these graphic novels , created by leading Ukrainian artists, will really help those who find themselves in such situations, so that they understand that they’re never alone, and that they have someone to turn to for help.”

The presentation of the new graphic novels also saw the launch of a digital platform on which the books can be read in Ukrainian and English, and anyone can share their views about the stories.

The graphic novel “On the Great Land” is about the return of ex-combatants to civilian life – a process that is usually full of difficulties and challenges. In the story, the protagonist is at a crossroads, trying to choose how to move on. The graphic novel “Sounds of Peace” describes the experiences of young people who were suddenly caught up in the whirlpool of the armed conflict, and how, despite the difficulties, they still passionately believe in their strength to help each other, so that they can finally wake up in a country where there are no more sounds of artillery, and the long-awaited peace begins. “The Heroes of Light” and “A New Start” graphic novels shed light on how teenagers and children can protect themselves from domestic violence. In the graphic novel “Heroes of Light” children unite into a team of superheroes, bravely fighting with the shadows of adults, which represent domestic violence perpetrators seeking to harm children.

One of the authors of the Sounds of Peace graphic novel Svitlana Taratorina stressed that people in eastern Ukraine have being suffering from the consequence of the armed conflict for years.

“Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes, and children who have had to grow up under the shelling are silently living with this experience,” Taratorina said. “This must not be forgotten. Only by telling our stories, we can understand each other. Dialogue is the only way to peace. It’s time for people to raise their voices, not weapons.”

Olena Maksymenko, who interviewed former ATO/JFO combatants and their families for the graphic novel “On the Great Land” noted that the gap between the worlds of the armed conflict and civilian life is widening, and people returning from the conflict zone are increasingly isolated.

“Such projects can become a kind of ‘bridge’ between these two worlds to close this gap,” Maksymenko said. The more initiatives like this one we have in the arts and the media, the less isolated ex-combatants will feel, and those who have been on the sidelines, uninterested in the topic, will become more involved.”

The graphic novels were created by the Vydavnytstvo publishing house. They were commissioned by UNDP under the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, with financial support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Background

The United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (UN RPP) is being implemented by four United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Twelve international partners support the Programme: the European Union (EU), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden & Switzerland.

Media enquiries

Maksym Kytsiuk, Communications Specialist, UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, maksym.kytsiuk@undp.org, +380 63 576 1839

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