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.
29 August 2023

18 months of war for Ukraine’s children

Ukraine’s children and their families have endured 18 months of forced displacement, unthinkable loss, and relentless violence since the escalation of war in February 2022. As of August 24, at least 545 children have been killed  – the equivalent of a child dying every day since the war escalated, mostly from bombardment. At least 1,156 children have been injured. Kindergartens, schools, hospitals, and sources of water and energy have been damaged and destroyed by shelling, leaving children without access to education and health care, and putting lives at risk. Only one third of schoolchildren are learning fully in person. The rest are either learning through a mixture of online and in-person or fully online. Threequarters of preschool age children in frontline areas are not attending kindergarten, robbing them of the opportunity to build a strong foundation for learning. Nearly two thirds of Ukraine’s children have been forced to flee their homes. Some have fled alone, exposing them to abuse, abduction, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking. Fear, anxiety, and grief associated with violence, loss of loved ones, separation from family, and displacement persist in children’s daily lives, leaving them struggling to cope. Many children who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries remain without access to education, healthcare, and protection services. As refugee children and families face the growing possibility of long-term displacement, anti-refugee sentiment fueled by rhetoric, policies and practices that divide societies is also growing across countries, adding to exclusion and deprivation experienced by refugee children and their families. UNICEF’s response 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. Ukraine’s long-term recovery depends on the recovery of children who are affected by the war today. UNICEF has expanded efforts to support the government on an inclusive and child-centered and sustainable recovery, through strengthening child protection, education, and health services.