What is Happening in Ukraine?
On 24 February, the Russian Federation announced a military operation in Ukraine. This will have a major impact on the lives of children and families throughout the country.
This is the latest development in an eight-year armed conflict. This conflict started in 2014 in Eastern Ukraine. The last eight years have taken a heavy toll on the civilian population. Ongoing conflict has left many in need of humanitarian assistance. For many of the 500,000 children living in eastern Ukraine, many have only known war.
The effects of this conflict have been compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has put even more strain on the most vulnerable families and children. Already the poorest country in Europe, this conflict will bring further hardship to children across Ukraine, both in the short and long term.
What Does this Mean for Children?
War has already been impacting on the lives of children in Ukraine. Now this situation will only grow worse. Children’s access to shelter, health care, water, and schooling are all under threat.
In eastern Ukraine water supplies are constantly under threat. UNICEF estimates that more than 4 million people have no access to drinking water. Half a million children do not have running water in their homes.
In a country where temperatures can fall to minus 20 degrees, this lack of water also means a lack of heat. Without water to run heating systems, families cannot protect themselves against the cold.
Like water, children’s opportunities for education are also under threat. More than 1 in 5 schools have been damaged since the start of the conflict.
Before this latest threat, it was estimated that 250,000 children needed support to access education. The figures are likely much higher now and will only increase.
COVID 19 & Poverty:
Covid-19 pandemic and the weakness of the Ukrainian currency the Hryvnia, have left many families increasingly vulnerable. Today, more than half of children in eastern Ukraine live in poverty. Already the poorest country in Europe, this conflict is only going to weaken Ukraine’s economy. Widespread poverty almost seems a certainity, as conflict extends across Ukraine.
Eight years of conflict and poverty has left 1 in 4 children in eastern Ukraine with trauma. With the conflict spreading across the country, this figure is going to increase quickly.
Children and their families need protection. They need to be safe from gender-based violence, violence against children and to access psychological care.
Access to quality health care services, including immunization, HIV/AIDS support, and emergency medical services are very limited. The already weakened health system also continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation now will only be compounded by the current violence.
What is UNICEF Doing?
As the crisis escalates, UNICEF is working across eastern Ukraine to scale up life-saving programmes for children. This includes trucking safe water to conflict-affected areas. It also includes readying health & education supplies and working to make sure there is instant help for children and families in need. UNICEF-supported mobile teams are also providing psychosocial care to traumatized children.
From our four offices located on both sides of the front line in Kramatorsk, Mariupol, Luhansk and Donetsk, UNICEF is working to:
- Repair schools and water points damaged by the bombardments and ensuring access to drinking water for more than 1.7 million people.
- Support the health care system. This includes providing necessary vaccines for preventable diseases like polio and measles.
- Provide psychosocial support to more than 200,000 families and children.
- Repairs damaged schools and kindergartens, as well as vital water and sanitation facilities.
- Deliver vaccines, essential supplies, and cold chain equipment, support national efforts to strengthen the health care system and work with the community to ensure better service and coverage.
What Can I Do?
Right now 7.5 million children in Ukraine need your support. They need water and sanitation, immunization and health care, schooling and learning, psychosocial support, and emergency cash assistance. The situation for children is urgent but you can make a difference.
Or if possible, fundraise for children in Ukraine. You can download our fundraising kit and get started today.