“This conflict has resulted in one of the fastest large-scale displacements of children since World War II,” said Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF. “This is a sinister move that could have lasting consequences for generations to come. Children’s safety, well-being and access to essential services are all threatened by appalling and ongoing violence.”
According to OHCHR*, 78 children have been killed and 105 injured in Ukraine since the conflict began on February 24. However, these numbers represent only reports that the UN has been able to confirm, and the true number is likely much higher.
The conflict has also had a devastating impact on civilian infrastructure and access to basic services.
The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, has reported 52 attacks on health facilities across the country in the past four weeks, while Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science has reported damage to more than 500 educational institutions. It is estimated that 1.4 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, while 4.6 million people have limited access to water or are at risk of water shortages. More than 450,000 children aged 6 to 23 months need additional nutritional support.
UNICEF has already observed a reduction in immunization coverage for routine and childhood immunizations, including measles and polio. This could quickly lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly in crowded areas where people are taking refuge from violence.
“In just a few weeks, the war has done great harm to Ukrainian children,” Mr. Russell said. “Children desperately need peace and protection. They need their rights. UNICEF continues to call for an immediate ceasefire and protection of children. Critical infrastructure that children depend on, including hospitals, schools and buildings where civilians live, should never be attacked .”
UNICEF and its partners are working to provide humanitarian assistance to children in Ukraine and neighboring countries.
In Ukraine, UNICEF delivered medical supplies to 49 hospitals in 9 regions – including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Lviv – improving access to healthcare for 400,000 mothers, newborns and children. UNICEF continues to distribute water and hygiene items to besieged communities. In addition, UNICEF increased the number of mobile child protection teams (from 22 to 50) working in areas of acute conflict and delivered 63 truckloads of essential supplies to meet the needs of more than 2.2 million people. In the coming weeks, UNICEF will begin emergency cash transfers to the most vulnerable families and set up child-friendly spots in key locations across the country.
To protect and support the millions of children and families who have fled Ukraine, UNICEF and UNHCR, in partnership with governments and civil society organizations, have created Blue Dots, safe spaces as a one-stop shop for children and women. The “Blue Dots” provide important information for traveling families, help to identify unaccompanied and separated children and to ensure their protection. They are also a hub for essential services. “Blue Dots” have already been established in countries accepting Ukrainian children and women and will be strengthened in the coming days, especially in Poland, where there are more than 20.
Despite intense efforts to ensure safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access, significant challenges remain in the country’s hardest-hit areas.