Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine M. Russell on children in Ukraine

“UNICEF is deeply concerned that intensifying hostilities in Ukraine pose an immediate threat to the lives and wellbeing of the country’s 7.5 million children. Heavy weapons fire along the line of contact has already damaged critical water infrastructure and education facilities in recent days. Unless the fighting subsides, tens of thousands of families could be forcibly displaced, dramatically escalating humanitarian needs.
 
“UNICEF is working across eastern Ukraine to scale up life-saving programmes for children. This includes trucking safe water to conflict-affected areas; prepositioning health, hygiene and emergency education supplies as close as possible to communities near the line of contact; and working with municipalities to ensure there is immediate help for children and families in need. UNICEF-supported mobile teams are also providing psychosocial care to children traumatised by the chronic insecurity.
 
“The past eight years of conflict have inflicted profound and lasting damage to children on both sides of the line of contact. The children of Ukraine need peace, desperately, now.
 
“UNICEF echoes the appeal of the Secretary-General for an immediate cease-fire and calls on all parties to respect their international obligations to protect children from harm, and to ensure that humanitarian actors can safely and quickly reach children in need. UNICEF also calls on all parties to refrain from attacking essential infrastructure on which children depend - including water and sanitation systems, health facilities and schools.”