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UNICEF’s Marie-Pierre Poirier: ‘No matter what, children should not bear the heavy cost of conflict in Ukraine’

KYIV, 14 March 2015 – Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, completed her assessment of the situation of children and families affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

UNICEF is concerned with the current humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine as more than one million people have been forced to flee their homes, including more than 140,000 children. Approximately 700,000 people have limited access to safe drinking water and over 100,000 children and caregivers need psychosocial support, according to UNICEF. 

UNICEF Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier during her visit to Slovyansk - UNICEF Ukraine / P. Zmey / 2015

During her visit, Ms. Poirier visited Kramatorsk and met the Governor of Donetsk Oblast Oleksander Kikhtenko, and the mayors of Volnovakha and Krasnohorivka to learn more about unmet needs of children in Donbas. In addition, she handed over three purification units provided by UNICEF with the support from the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), which will ensure the supply of safe drinking water to 20,000 people in Krasnohorivka. The Mayor of Volnovakha Serhiy Demchenko thanked UNICEF for providing 94,734 liters of bottled water in February and gifted the souvenirs from children of Volnovakha to Ms. Poirier.

In Slovyansk, the UNICEF team distributed humanitarian aid, including essential hygiene supplies to mothers with children. Ms. Poirier visited the school #9, which was devastated by shelling in May 2014. In cooperation with the Ministry of Education of Ukraine, UNICEF trained 400 school psychologists to identify and respond to children’s heightened stress. Over 5,000 children with psychosocial support were reach through group counselling. One of these school psychologists is Anna Alexandrvona, who was displaced from Donetsk. She is now helping children in Slovyansk. Ms. Poirier attended Ms. Alexandrvona's session with over 30 children, aged 12-14, who have been drawing to express their feelings about their past experience and their aspirations for peaceful future. 

“I am struck and moved by my interaction with the children in Slovyansk. Some of them have been displaced; others have witnessed shelling and violence. All of them have been affected. UNICEF with partners are scaling up our support to help children cope,” said Ms. Poirier. “No matter what, children should not bear the heavy cost of this conflict in Ukraine.”

UNICEF Regional Director, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier (second from right) and UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, Ms Giovanna Barberis (right) during the meeting with Ukraine's First Lady (center) - Press Service of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration / 2015

In Kyiv, Ms. Poirier discussed the immunization of children with the Minister of Health of Ukraine Alexander Kvitashvili, and covered the urgent issue of child rights monitoring in the conflict area with the OSCE Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan. She met the representatives of the Ukrainian think-tanks working to protect different aspects of children’s rights in the country. 

With Ukraine’s First Lady Marina Poroshenko, the Deputy Head of the Administration of President of Ukraine Rostyslav Pavlenko and the President’s Ombudsman on Children’s Rights Mykola Kuleba, Ms Poirier discussed how to ensure that the children’s issues are high on the Ukraine’s reform agenda. Ms. Poirier met the representatives of leading organizations addressing HIV and AIDS challenges in the country for UNICEF to intensify necessary support to HIV-affected children and women in Ukraine.


Ms. Poirier was appointed UNICEF Regional Director on 8 February 2012. She is in charge of improving the lives of children in 22 countries and territories of the region covering Central Asia, Caucasus, Turkey and countries of Southern and Eastern Europe. She brings to the position 25 years of development and programme coordination experience in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, providing solution for children in cooperation with government, civil society and private sector. 

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF in Ukraine and its work, please visit:

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For further information, please contact:

Veronika Vashchenko
Communication Officer
UNICEF in Ukraine
Tel: 044 5210125



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