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By Melina Scarfo
3 March 2022

The world is watching in shock as the deadly conflict threatens communities across Ukraine.

Families forced to separate to stay safe. Mothers left explaining to children why they can’t go home. Train stations echoing with tears. 

But through the pain and chaos, it’s heart-warming to see the world come together for children and families. Our teams have captured these incredible moments of hope and survival. 

Air raid shelters turned offices

UNICEF is determined to keep our life-saving work for children and families going through conflict and danger – no matter what.  

Here Nina, UNICEF Ukraine’s Chief of Communications, works from an underground air raid shelter in Kyiv. 

In the face of escalating violence across the country, UNICEF won't stop. Help our teams get clean water and health care supplies to children and families in need. 

In Kyiv, children play and draw in an air raid shelter.
In Kyiv, children play and draw in an air raid shelter.
© UNICEF/UN0598024/Ratynskiy/UNIAN

Learning doesn't stop in a conflict 

Children staying in an air raid shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine play and draw, despite the violence surrounding them.  

These children deserve the same things as all children. Easy access to clean water. A loving home undisturbed by violence. A safe place to learn. The chance to laugh, play and just be a child. 

In conflict or peace, every child has the right to learn and play. 

Hospital in Ukraine
Babies are cared for the basement of a medical complex in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
© UNICEF/UN0599046/Brynza / © UNICEF/UN0599037/Brynza

New life in a basement

Amidst the frightening conflict, heroic health workers at this underground maternity unit in Kharkiv are helping bring new life into the world. 

As hundreds of thousands of people shelter in bunkers or flee their homes, medical care does not stop. Doctors and nurses have worked tirelessly in this basement for five days, providing urgent medical care for pregnant women and newborns. 

“We have an oxygen concentrator – our kids need oxygen. The light is supplied by a self-made device, but everything is very reliable,” says the head of the department.  

Despite the ongoing violence, UNICEF is on the ground in Ukraine, delivering urgently needed supplies and to help mothers give birth safetly. 

Volunteers in Ukraine
Near the Polish border, volunteers greet families fleeing danger with food, smiles and drinks.
© UNICEF/UN0598197/Moskaliuk

A warm welcome in Poland

More than 4.5 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine in search of safety. Families and children are travelling for days in the freezing cold to cross into neighbouring countries. 

Along the border of Ukraine and Poland, long queues of cars wait to cross into the country. Thankfully, children and families are greeted by generous volunteers with food, smiles and drinks.  

While we can’t all be on the ground – there’s something we can all do from right here in Australia.   

A donation to UNICEF keeps our teams on the ground in Ukraine and at its borders, delivering clean water, life-saving health care supplies and psychosocial care.

Playtime must go on 

It looks surreal but playing in this refugee shelter in Poland is a chance for displaced children to feel normal, make friends and escape the chaos of fleeing their homes. 

Volunteers are playing music so children can dance and sing. In just five days, more than 3,000 refugees have stayed at this centre.

Finding safety with friends 

Where do you go when you’re fleeing violence? Hundreds of thousands of people are making their way across borders and to the safety of family and friend’s homes.  

Olga and her two young children fled to the the border near Romania where they became separated from her father and brother. Olga’s is hoping to reach her friend in Romania. 

“Two days ago, they started shooting, and last night it was very dangerous,” says Olga. “Now I don’t know what to do next. I have a sister in Germany and maybe next week we will go to her.” 

Olga hopes she can return to Ukraine and be reunited with the rest of her family when it is safe.  

The situation for children is dire. Children on the move are at risk of being seperated from their families, exploited and abused. UNICEF is doing everything it possibly can to respond to the urgent needs of children inside Ukraine and in neighbouring countries.

Thanks to our donors, we are delivering life-saving water, medical supplies, winter clothes and education kits to keep children and families going. If you’re able to, please make a gift for the children of Ukraine today. 

Children standing in a field
Divia, five, and Damia, eight, fled from south-eastern Ukraine to find safety in Romania.
© UNICEF/UN0599064/Moldovan

Healing through music 

Back in Ukraine, Maksym plays piano. This theatre in western Ukraine is currently being used as transit for children and families forced to flee. 

"When I play the piano, I forget about the war,” says Maksym. The nine-year old 
was supposed to play his first concert this week but the family had to escape the shelling. 

The theatre has been a haven for families like Maksym as they prepare to continue their journey to safety.   

No matter what, no matter where, children must be protected from violence. UNICEF won’t stop until every child is safe. 

Young boy plays piano
Maksym, nine, plays piano in a theatre which is currently being used as a transit centre for families on the move.
© UNICEF/UN0601071/Filippov