More than half of children in Ukraine have had to leave their homes to flee the fighting, a month after the start of the Russian invasion, according to Unicef.
In total, approximately 4.3 million children, out of the 7.5 million present in the territory, have been displaced. According to estimates by the United Nations Children’s Fund, 1.8 million children have crossed the border and left Ukraine for a neighboring country, and 2.5 million have been displaced within the country itself.
“The war has caused one of the fastest large-scale displacements of children since the Second World War,” said UNICEF chief executive Catherine Russell. Moreover, according to the latest UN count, 81 children were killed in Ukraine, and more than a hundred were injured.
UNICEF has also warned of the increased risk of human trafficking and exploitation to which children fleeing the conflict are exposed. “Human traffickers often seek to take advantage of the chaos generated by massive population movements,” warns the organization, which indicates that “according to a recent analysis (…) 28% of victims of human trafficking human beings recorded throughout the world are children”.
Thousands of children need food aid
“Displaced children are more at risk of being separated from their families, exploited and trafficked. They need the governments of the region to step in and put in place measures to ensure their safety,” UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Afshan Khan said in a statement. that 500 unaccompanied children were registered at the border between Ukraine and Romania between February 24 and March 17.
Furthermore, the bombardments in Ukraine have destroyed certain infrastructures, such as hospitals, shops and schools, thus preventing civilians from accessing certain essential services. UNICEF indicates in particular that 450,000 children aged 6 to 23 months need additional food support.
The war in #Ukraine poses a growing threat to the lives and well-being of children in Ukraine.
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— UNICEF (FR) (@UNICEF_FR) March 24, 2022
The United Nations Children’s Fund is therefore continuing its calls for an end to the conflict, and intends to continue setting up “Blue Dot” centres, spaces where women and children from Ukraine are welcomed and where they can benefit from essential services and protection, located in several countries bordering Ukraine.