Children in Gaza are in desperate need.
Donate today
By Melina Scarfo
24 May 2022

Three months into the war, life for the children of Ukraine is increasingly difficult. Fighting is escalating and airstrikes continue to be reported across the country.

The fighting is moving closer to schools, hospitals and orphanages. Homes have been damaged or destroyed. Children are still being forced to find safety in underground shelters and subway stations. 

Nearly two-thirds of children are now displaced either within Ukraine or in neighbouring countries and beyond. 

More than 6.5 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine in search of safety, becoming refugees. Most of those on the move are women and children.  

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

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.

Children in Ukraine need peace, desperately, now. 

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. 
  • Children are terrified, in shock, and desperate for safety, stability, protection and psychosocial care. 
  • 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. 
Mother sits with child in tent
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, including 5.25 million children, 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. Children fleeing war in Ukraine are at significant risk of family separation, violence, abuse, sexual exploitation, and trafficking, leading to an acute child protection crisis. 

UNICEF is continuing to set up 'Blue Dot' safe spaces to provide crucial support to families on the move. Currently 24 Blue Dots are operational across Moldova, Romania, Poland, Italy, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. 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.  

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

UNICEF worker sits with mother and daughter
A 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 across the region. Currently, 203 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.
  • Education and school supplies to keep children learning.  

Ukraine Children's Emergency Fund

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

UNICEF workers carry supplies
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.    

There have been at least 248 attacks impacting health care facilities in Ukraine, according to the World Health Organisation.  

As people flee, sanitation and hygiene services at borders are under pressure, putting children and families are risk of disease outbreaks. There are low vaccination rates for measles, polio and COVID-19. 
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 delivering life-saving medical equipment to help mothers give birth safely.  Since the end of February, UNICEF has reached more than 1.6 million 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.   
At least one in six UNICEF-supported ‘Safe Schools’ in eastern Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed since the start of the war.   
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.  
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.

A young boy looking at the camera
© UNICEF/UN0839488/Filippov

Ukraine Children's Emergency Fund

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