“We had to crawl to our basement. We stayed so long it felt like our new home.”

Two sisters, living amidst the conflict in eastern Ukraine, tell their story.

Emily Subden
Dasha at school in eastern Ukraine
UNICEF Ukraine

08 June 2018

After four years of conflict, over 750 schools have been destroyed or damaged in eastern Ukraine. Education – so crucial for a child’s sense of ‘normalcy’ – has been shattered, with more than one in five schools damaged or destroyed. 

Sisters, nine-year-old Diana and 13-year-old Dasha, are just two of the 200,000 children who go to school every day amid this violence. Their school has been hit so many times that sandbags are now piled in all the windows. Home is no safer. The sisters have had to hide out in their basement while shells fly overhead. 

Teachers and psychologists report signs of severe psychosocial distress among children, including nightmares, social withdrawal and panic attacks triggered by loud noises. UNICEF is providing psychosocial support to children and their families, as well as life-saving mine risk education and support for the rehabilitation of schools damaged by the fighting.