23 February 2024

Two years of full-scale war in Ukraine

Since the escalation of war in February 2022 Ukraine’s children and their families have endured forced displacement, unthinkable loss and relentless violence. Over the past two years, according to UNICEF estimates of the latest available data, children in Ukraine’s frontline areas have been forced to spend between 3,000 and 5,000 hours sheltering in basements as air raid alerts sound above. They have experienced prolonged disruption of schooling and routine, sparking a deep sense of loss, dread, fear and anxiety. These feelings, coupled with isolation manifest in ways that make it challenging for children to feel happiness, learn, and participate in everyday life. The constant fear of death, injury and further loss is compounded by continuing attacks. Even when the bombing stops, the ground children walk on can cost them their lives, as mines and explosive remnants of war cover an estimated 30 per cent of the country. Many children who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries are struggling to access education, health care, and protection services, and, as the war wages, face the prospect of long-term displacement and deprivation. Despite their resilience, for many children inside and outside Ukraine, the war has wiped out two years of schooling, playtime with friends, and moments spent with loved ones, robbing them of their education and happiness, wreaking havoc on their mental state. Ukraine’s children need this war to end and a sustained commitment and resources to be able to recover and reclaim their childhoods.
16 February 2024

Sheltering from war

Try to imagine what it feels like to spend 5,000 hours – the equivalent of 7 months – sheltering in underground basements and metro stations. Now imagine you are a child. What does it feel like to be confined for this  length of time as air raid sirens ring above. Not knowing what might happen to your home, school and family members and friends…, Education disrupted, Across Ukraine, schools have either been damaged or destroyed by shelling or lack adequate facilities. Around 40 per cent of children across the country do not have access to continuous education. In areas nearer to the frontline, half of school-age children are unable to access continuous education. In 2023, UNICEF provided more than 1.3 million…, Schools in ruins, Nearly two years ago, Stepan and Yaroslav’s school was destroyed by shelling. Since then, schoolchildren have been trying to learn online. UNICEF 2023 Yaroslav (16) stands against the background of a destroyed school, he used to study in. UNICEF/UNI510549/Pashkina "I'm afraid that younger children won't have the opportunity to receive an education…, Shattered memories, Eight-year-old Anya stands amidst the rubble of her badly damaged school in Buzova, Ukraine. Anya and her family hid in their basement when the heavy bombardment began. Her school was hit 14 times by shells and rockets between February and March 2022. Before the war, Buzova’s school was one of the best in the Kyiv region. Around 500 children came…, All too loud, The impact of war on children’s psychological well-being are widespread. Ukraine’s children report feeling anxious, sad and disinterested in learning. They also report having excessive fears and phobias, sensitivity to loud noises and trouble sleeping.  “When we hear an air alarm, we go to the basement,” 5-year-old Maksym explains. “We go down and…, New country, new school, Ten-year-old Darya fled to Moldova with her 16-year-old brother and grandparents in the spring of 2022. For a year and a half, she and her brother have been separated from their parents, who had to remain in Odesa, Ukraine. Their grandparents are striving to ensure the siblings continue their education in Moldova. In school, Darya listens…, Building a path for children to heal, Children and families impacted by two years of war in Ukraine have shown extraordinary resilience, but without support the psychological wounds of war could scar them for life.  UNICEF has reached more than 2.5 million children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support to help them overcome some of the distress and challenges they…, Remembering something good, Eleven-year-old Nika misses her friends and hobbies. Her photo diary has become one of her main sources of joy. Through it she tries to capture pleasant and important childhood moments, which the ongoing war has destroyed for so many children.  UNICEF 2023 Nika (11) is taking picture next to a destroyed building in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Her favourite…, Finding hope, Sisters Nelya and Lilya are in the ninth grade and, like all of Ukraine’s children have faced huge upheaval to their lives. They have become accustomed to hiding during the air raid alerts and are desperately trying to keep warm in their cold apartment. The ongoing hostilities and blackouts during fall and winter have affected their mental health…, A child-centered recovery, Ukraine’s long-term recovery depends on the recovery of children and families. Across Ukraine, UNICEF works to ensure children have access to health care, immunisation, nutrition support, protection, education, safe water and sanitation, social protection, and mental health and psychosocial support.  In 2023, UNICEF reached 8.76 million people…