No way for children to grow up
500 days of war in Ukraine
Over the last 500 days since the war escalated, the children of Ukraine have had no safe place to learn, play and be children. Right now, millions of children continue to live under bombardment, and at least 1,630 have lost their lives or have been injured. Thousands of schools, hospitals and sources of water and energy have been destroyed, putting more lives at risk.
This is no way for children to grow up.
Shattered dreams and missed opportunities
“I wish I could go back to kindergarten. I loved to have a nap there, I loved macaroni for lunch, I had a friend there. I would also like to go to school. I have a beautiful red dress that I haven't worn yet, so I wish I could wear it for the First Bell celebration”, says six-year-old Milana, who has missed an entire year of pre-school.
"We have lost a lot since the beginning of the war. And for me, the biggest losses are not only educational. I lost opportunities to communicate, I lost my youth."
Children are missing out on school, play time and carefree days with family and friends. Half of all children in Ukraine are learning online or through a mixture of online and in person classes, while more than 182,000 children under five are not attending preschool, losing the opportunity to gain the skills essential to their cognitive and social development.
The lifelong impact of this war on children's mental wellbeing cannot be underestimated. Exposed to violence, separated from their families, displaced from their homes – children continue to experience fear, anxiety, and grief.
"We have lost a lot since the beginning of the war. And for me, the biggest losses are not only educational. I lost opportunities to communicate, I lost my youth", 17-year-old Andriy says, as he and his classmates rehearse waltz for their graduation ceremony, which they hope will take place despite the ongoing shelling.
One of the direct consequences of more than 1,000 attacks on health care and the displacement of millions of people in Ukraine is the large number of under-vaccinated children: the country has now the world’s highest rate of children who have not received the third required dose of the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT3) vaccine.
The majority of the 6.3 million refugees from Ukraine recorded globally are women and children. Their journey to rebuilding their lives has been riddled with challenges, as they struggle to access education, health care, and protection services, due to language barriers and limited capacity of national systems in host countries.
An estimated two thirds of refugee children from Ukraine are not currently enrolled in national education systems in their host countries.
With rising fuel and energy costs, refugees from Ukraine and vulnerable families alike are also grappling with an ever-increasing uncertainty about their future.
As war rages on, UNICEF’s humanitarian response and support to refugees continues
UNICEF continues to respond to children’s urgent humanitarian needs and ensure children have access to health care, immunization, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, and mental health and psychosocial support. In refugee hosting countries, UNICEF continues to work with governments, municipalities, and local partners to strengthen national systems that provide refugee children and marginalized children from host communities with quality education, health care and protection.
More funding is needed to support a child-centered recovery
While UNICEF continues to respond to children’s urgent humanitarian needs in front line areas, we are supporting the government on inclusive and sustainable recovery efforts in central and western Ukraine - a recovery with the rights of children at its core. The Ukrainian government’s ambitious child-care reform agenda, “Better Care” is a principal joint initiative in this regard.
As hostilities continue unabated, UNICEF requires financial backing to meet the humanitarian needs inside Ukraine and support the country’s recovery, and to strengthen national systems to meet the needs of refugees and other vulnerable children in refugee-hosting countries.
UNICEF requires US$1.05 billion to address the immediate and longer-term needs of 9.4 million people, including 4 million children, in Ukraine and in refugee-hosting countries.
Funding will enable UNICEF to provide, sustain and expand critical services in health, nutrition, child protection, gender-based violence, water and sanitation, and social protection alongside governments’ system strengthening and recovery efforts. It will ensure timely preparedness for additional internal displacements and refugee movements.
500 days of war for Ukraine’s children: Media fact sheet
Ukraine’s children and their families have endured 500 days of forced displacement, unthinkable loss, and relentless violence since the escalation of war in February 2022. At least 530 children have been killed – the equivalent of a child dying every day since the war escalated, mostly from bombardment. At least 1,086 children have been injured.