On 24 February 2022, the lives of Ukraine’s children and their families were forever altered as the onset of war forced 7.9 million people to flee their homes and communities, leaving loved ones behind and sparking displacement on a scale and speed not seen since World War II. For those who remained behind, bunkering down in air raid shelters and subway stations was the new norm as homes, schools and buildings were destroyed around them.
It has been 365 days of violence, trauma, loss, destruction and displacement for the children of Ukraine. It has also been 365 days of incredible strength, courage, support and love that children have demonstrated.
Ukraine - 365 Days
IN THE LAST 365 DAYS
Over 17.7 million people are estimated to be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, including 3.4 million children requiring protection interventions. By the end of 2022, sadly, over 1,000 children have been killed or injured while millions have fled, uprooted from their homes, separated from their families or put at risk of violence.
The conflict has caused significant damage to Ukraine’s vital infrastructure, severely impacting children’s access to electricity, water, sanitation and telecommunications. The attacks against electricity and other energy infrastructure have caused widespread blackouts and left almost every child in Ukraine without sustained access to electricity. This affects access to virtual classes and warmth during a bitterly cold winter, where temperatures can drop below -20°C.
Education has been disrupted for more than 5 million Ukraine children; this is the entire population of children in Australia.
"When the air raid siren occurs, there are explosions or planes are flying around, a bomb can be dropped, and it can cause damage. That's why we always go to the shelter."
After a year of war, kindergarten children like Margaryta, are getting used to sheltering in the basement, but without a stable electricity supply, the kindergarten’s boiler room would not be able to operate amid power outages and freezing winter temperatures.
“Most of the children do not have generators at home, so they often spend evenings at home without electricity or heating,” says Viktoria, the head of the kindergarten. “And the kindergarten is the warmest and safest place for children now.”
Alongside our partners, UNICEF is helping to supply schools and children’s hospitals with generators and heating equipment.
The toll on the mental well-being of a nation’s children
What happens in childhood can last a lifetime, and the war in Ukraine is having a devasting impact on the mental well-being of children and young people. Fears and anxieties that arise in times of stress can have long-term effects. An estimated 1.5 million children are at risk of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental conditions.
Oleksandr and his wife are doing all they can to protect their two-year-old daughter Michelle during the ongoing violence that is still raging around them.
"She's afraid of everything. Noise, fireworks, air alarms, but most especially explosions. She starts crying and trembling. We take her in our arms and hold her close. The best security we can give her right now is the hugs of her mum and dad."
As well as the daily threat of shelling, landmines and power outages, people lack access to health care, education and basic essentials.
"Many people escaped from Kharkiv due to the hostilities,” says Oleksandr. “In some areas, there are almost no people. It's difficult to find a professional doctor for a child because there are not enough healthcare workers. And sometimes it's even difficult to find and buy the necessary medicines.”
Sitting in the basement of their house in the Kyiv region, 21-year-old Sasha and her 14-year-old brother Ivan explain that they were woken at 4:30 am on 24 February 2022 by the sounds of a bombardment. After days of violence, Sasha and her father were driving home, racing to beat the curfew, when suddenly a bright orange light engulfed everything – a blast threw the car two lanes over. Their father only managed to survive by holding onto the steering wheel. Photo Credit: ©The Village media
16-year-old Dasha spent the first day of the war at home, watching for planes from her window. Over the following weeks, Dasha lost weight, as she was afraid that others would not have enough food because of her. The family fled, leaving one of their four dogs with cancer behind. With little money left, Dasha’s family stayed in a dormitory. The unfamiliar surroundings made her physically sick, and she was always on the verge of tears. Recently, Dasha used an app to find a new friend called Masha, who she enjoys walking with. Photo Credit: ©The Village media
The first thing that 18-year-old Serhii did when he woke to the sound of explosions at 5 am on 24 February 2022 was to go to college to pick up his saxophone. Serhii’s family moved in with his grandmother after their apartment building was burnt to the ground. After a humanitarian corridor was set up in March, Serhii and his family decided to flee, but the road was difficult. They ran out of fuel, and the convoy was under fire, but they made it to safety. Photo Credit: ©The Village Media
How UNICEF is helping Ukraine’s children and their families during times of crisis
Thanks to the incredible support and generous donations of our international community, UNICEF has strengthened our ongoing presence in Ukraine, working alongside our partners to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance in a constantly changing and volatile situation.
Because of you, we were able to provide the children of Ukraine with access to safe water, sanitation and healthcare, even after infrastructure was damaged or destroyed. In partnership with UNHCR, we set up 40 Blue Dots; safe spaces along border crossings that provide children and families with critical information and services to help them with their onward journey. Our psychosocial services offered essential support to over 2.9 million children and caregivers within Ukraine and neighbouring countries, and our cash assistance programs helped meet the needs of families with children, who are most affected by the war.
With your help, we provided more than 5 million children with continued access to education. Through the online learning systems UNICEF helped set up during the pandemic, millions of children have resumed their studies. We train teachers, run mobile education teams and build child-friendly spaces in underground shelters. And we're helping the millions of children who've fled to neighbouring countries start at new schools with language classes, learning supplies and assistive devices for children with disabilities.
children engaged in education inside Ukraine
children and caregivers reached with psychosocial support
people provided with safe water
people provided access to healthcare
people reached with multi-purpose cash assistance inside Ukraine
Together we have achieved so much, but it’s not the time to look away. 365 days later, Ukraine's children need us more than ever.
UNICEF is always there before, during and after an emergency, but we can’t do this alone. UNICEF requires US$1.1 billion to address the immediate and longer-term needs of 9.4 million people, including 4 million children, who remain deeply impacted by the war in Ukraine.
Funding will enable UNICEF to provide, sustain and expand critical services in health, nutrition, child protection, gender-based violence, WASH and social protection alongside government relief and recovery efforts. It will also ensure timely preparedness for additional internal displacements and refugee movements.
Ukraine Children's Emergency Fund
As Ukraine experiences its first winter since the war began, children are now facing plummeting temperatures and harsh winter conditions.
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