The children of eastern Ukraine have lived in the shadow of conflict for eight years. Now, the world is watching as the conflict intensifies and spreads across the country.

The fighting is moving closer to schools, hospitals and orphanages. Homes have been damaged or destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people are without safe water or electricity.

The situation of children is dire. Children are being killed. Children are being traumatised. Millions of children are in need of humanitarian support. 

More than 4.5 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine in search of safety, becoming refugees. Most of those on the move are women and children. For those staying in Kyiv, life has gone underground.

The past eight years of conflict have inflicted profound and lasting damage to children on both sides of the line of contact. Children in Ukraine need peace, desperately, now. 
 
Our teams have been in the Ukraine for 25 years and are working day and night to scale up support. You can help send life-saving supplies.
 

What does the conflict mean for Ukraine’s children?  

 
  • Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been displaced – they are at risk of being separated from their families, exploited and abused. 
  • 7.1 million people are internally displaced inside the country. 
  • Medical supplies are running low, hundreds of thousands of people are without access to safe water and children are in urgent need of protection. 
Xenia, and her two-year-old son left Ukraine to find safety in Romania but was separated from her husband at the border. © UNICEF/UN0599591/Moldovan

“We heard the sounds of the explosions... so we
decided to leave. My husband brought us to the
border, I don’t know where he is now. I am terrified.”

- Xenia, a mother displaced in Romania


Families on the move


Millions of people have fled violence in Ukraine, finding safety within the country or crossing borders. This could become Europe's largest refugee crisis of the century. 

As children and families flee, they are in urgent need of clean water and protection. Women and girls are most at risk of gender-based violence, especially those displaced and travelling on their own.

In Belarus, Moldova, Poland, and Romania, UNICEF is setting up 'Blue Dot' safe spaces to provide crucial support to families on the move. Our teams help to identify unaccompanied and separated children and focus on family reunification and protection.

These spaces provide children and families with a safe place to rest, access to health care, water and food and the chance to play and be children again. Since the end of February, UNICEF has established 11 Blue Dots reaching around 30,000 people.
 
No matter what, no matter where, children must be protected from violence. UNICEF won’t stop until every child is safe. 
An Ukrainian mother and daughter, at the border crossing in Romania, talks to Andreea Marin, National UNICEF in Romania Goodwill Ambassador. © UNICEF/UN0599522/Vockel

 

UNICEF is on the ground in Ukraine and the region to support children 

 

UNICEF is ramping up efforts to deliver emergency support to the most vulnerable in Ukraine and aross the region. Currently, 186 UNICEF staff are in Ukraine, and we are sending more.

In response to ongoing and urgent needs, our teams are working to reach children and families with: 
 
  • Safe water to conflict-affected areas where water systems are barely functioning or have been destroyed.
  • Health care and nutrition support where services are severely lacking or have shut down entirely. 
  • Protection from violence, exploitation and abuse. 
  • Mental health and psychosocial support . 
You can help to deliver life-saving supplies for children and their families. Please, donate now.  
 

Even before the recent escalation, more than 3.4 million people in eastern Ukraine needed humanitarian aid, especially 510,000 children living in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the country. In these regions, child poverty rates top 65 per cent and 57 per cent respectively.

UNICEF delivers four tons of basic hygiene supplies, including diapers, disinfectants, wipes, to displaced families in the Republic of Moldova. © UNICEF/UN0598145/Velixar


A health system weakened by conflict 

Ukraine's health system has been severely weakened by the dual crisis of conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.  One in four families living near the contact line face difficulties in receiving basic health services.

Due to pervasive vaccine hesitancy, Ukraine has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in Eastern Europe. And while routine immunisation rates among children have improved in recent years, coverage is poor, heightening risks of another measles outbreak. 

In Ukraine, UNICEF-supported child protection mobile teams are reaching children wherever they can with psychosocial care, mental health support and protection services.

Our teams are also deliverying life-saving medical equipment to help mothers give birth safely.  Since the end of February, UNICEF has reached more than 719,000 people with life-saving medical supplies in hospitals and maternity homes across Ukraine. 

Education under attack   


Imagine trying to go to school in a war zone. Many schools have been damaged by shells and rocket fire, or lack resources, making it dangerous for children to keep learning.  

Since the beginning of the conflict more than 750 schools have been damaged, disrupting access to education for thousands of children on both sides of the contact line. 

Further school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic means children could not access education, especially those from low-income families with limited or no access to the internet. 

Now as the conflict escalates, even more schools and health centres have been destroyed. As families flee, our teams are supplying education kits to keep children learning. UNICEF also helps to repair damaged schools and kindergartens so children feel safe and can continue their education. 

Since the end of February, our teams have reached more than 59,000 children with education, early childhood development and learning materials.

For 25 years UNICEF has been there to protect the children of Ukraine. We cannot rest until we reach every child affected by this conflict.

 

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Yaroslav, 9, and his mother, Vica, are waiting in the north of Romania, after a long journey that started a few days ago in their home in south Ukraine. © UNICEF/UN0599056/Moldovan

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