UNICEF Geneva Palais briefing note on the situation of children in Ukraine
This is a summary of what was said by Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
GENEVA, 25 February 2022 - "As many of you know, the military operation in Ukraine poses an immediate threat to the lives and wellbeing of the country’s 7.5 million children.
"As we speak, there have been major attacks in Kyiv that have created great fear and panic among the population, with families really scared, moving alongside their children into subways and shelters. This is clearly a terrifying moment for children across the country.
"UNICEF has been working for the past 8 years in and across eastern Ukraine to scale up life-saving programmes for children. This includes trucking safe water to conflict-affected areas; prepositioning health, hygiene and emergency education supplies as close as possible to communities near the line of contact; and working with municipalities to ensure there is immediate help for children and families in need.
"We have staff in the country in more than 5 locations.
"UNICEF has been supporting mobile teams to provide psychosocial support to traumatized children, and that has further elevated as a result of the insecurity. These child protection teams provide case management - they respond to violence, abuse, separation from family, gender-based violence, mental health and psychosocial support, and disability cases.
"But clearly, in the last few days, the needs of children and families are escalating in line with the conflict. As many of you have seen, evacuations are ongoing in Luhansk Oblast and have started in Donetsk. Needs are wide, ranging from hygiene products to blankets, to gas burners
, to first aid kits.
"UNICEF - along with the rest of the UN family - calls on all parties to protect all children at all times and to ensure that humanitarian actors can safely and quickly reach children in need, wherever they are.
"UNICEF also calls on all parties to refrain from attacking essential infrastructure on which children depend - including water and sanitation systems, health facilities and schools. Already we have reports of grave shortages, along with a fast-rising number of requests for psychological support, and care for children.
"UNICEF is seeking US$66.4 million to provide access to basic services including water and sanitation, immunization and health care, schooling and learning, psychosocial support, and emergency cash assistance for up to 7.5 million children inside Ukraine.
"We will be working with UNHCR and other UN agencies in the coming days for a Flash Appeal for the surrounding countries and we have activated what we call the ‘Blue Dots’ which we used during the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe during 2015-2016, providing essential services en route where families and children have been evacuated in surrounding countries.
"I know that as we rush, and my colleagues will probably speak to this, to tally the civilian casualties, including among children, we clearly have to address the trauma of the living.
"So we count on the joint efforts of the entire UN family to support this response."
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 and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/eca/.