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By Andrea Andres
6 June 2023

For Yevheniya, a mother living near the Kakhovka dam in Kherson, recent events have rekindled the fear and trauma many like her have been trying to heal from since the war escalated in February last year. 

"It reminds me of the start of the war, when you don't know what to expect," Yevheniya said. 

On the morning of 6 June, the Kakhovka dam was attacked and destroyed. Located on the Khakovka reservoir's southern bank in Kherson, southern Ukraine, the dam's primary purpose was to supply drinking water, hydroelectric energy and irrigation to communities.  

However, the flooding caused by the dam's damage poses a grave risk for children who have already been through so much, causing further displacement and interruption of their childhoods, but also affecting their access to safe drinking water and electricity.   

Since the war started in 2022 

5.4 million

People displaced from their homes

4.1 million

Children in need inside Ukraine

A mother's fear  

A mother of three, Yevheniya's first thoughts were of her children's safety and ensuring her family had enough water. During the morning of the attack, the family collected water in every available container, as the water supply had been cut off when the dam collapsed. 

"The house is now completely filled with water containers. But it's uncertain if these supplies will be enough for us. Our water has already been shut off. And we're afraid they will also cut off the electricity because there have been warnings about that too,” Yevheniya said. 

Three brothers walk through the yard in their home.
Brothers ten-year-old Yehor, eight-year-old Hlib and 11-year-old Tymofiy in the yard of their home in Kherson, Ukraine.
© UNICEF/UN0839472/Filippov

"We experienced this during active shelling, when my children and I spent a month without water and electricity. It's very difficult to go through it again, especially for the children in summer."

Mother of three

In a different part of Kherson, another Yevheniya, a mother of five, now fears taking her children out of their home, even skipping a planned trip to see therapists at the UNICEF Spilno Child Spot following the unexpected attack.  

A mother with her three children standing in their garden.
Mother of five children Yevhenia with her three younger children: three-year-old Nika, six-year-old Milana, and 10-year-old Vanya.

" We want our children to have the opportunity to communicate with other children and have a peaceful life. But now we're afraid to go into the city centre again because of the intensified shelling and flooding."

Mother of five

How UNICEF is helping children and families in Kherson 

UNICEF teams help parents, children and elderly citizens in a train station.
At Mykolaiv station, UNICEF mobile teams are supporting people evacuated from the Kherson region following the Kakhovka dam attack.

Every child deserves access to clean water, safety and protection. Since the attack on 6 June, UNICEF is working on the ground in affected areas, providing essential supplies such as water bottles, hygiene kits, and children’s kits to people from affected areas in Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts, particularly people who have been forced to relocate.  

Child protection hubs have also been set up at transit locations to provide children with psychosocial support and a location to play with their peers

UNICEF will also implement cash transfers to covering approximately 4,500 parents and children, to ensure displaced families have resources available to purchase essential supplies. 

UNICEF is on the ground in Ukraine to support children 

A young girl stands next to UNICEf staff
Six-year-old Jasmine, a refugee from Ukraine, with Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.
© UNICEF/UN0619561/Korta

With 4.1 million children in need, including those in Kherson, the war in Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on all aspects of children’s lives. 

Since the war escalated in February 2022, there is not a single aspect of children’s lives that the conflict has not impacted, with children killed, injured, forced from their homes, missing out on critical education and denied the benefits of a safe and secure environment. 

No matter what, UNICEF will be there before, during and after the war, but we can't do it alone. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we have helped families and children in Ukraine by: 

  • Delivering crucial medical supplies and equipment to 2,215,417 children and women 
  • Supporting 2,869,444 people with access to safe and clean water this year 
  • Helping 382,767 children receive to access formal or non-formal education this year 

Yet, there is still so much more to be done for the innocent lives caught in the crossfire and now is not the time to look away. Ukraine's children need us more than ever. 

For 26 years, UNICEF has been there to protect the children of Ukraine. We won't rest until every child is protected and safe.

Children of Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine's children have endured violence, trauma, loss, destruction and displacement since the war escalated in February 2022.