Ukraine emergency response in neighbouring countries
Supporting children and families on the move across Europe
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As the war in Ukraine continues, humanitarian conditions for children in Ukraine keep deteriorating. Around two-thirds of children are now displaced either within Ukraine or in neighbouring countries. Children continue to be killed, injured and deeply traumatized by the devastating violence around them. They are terrified, in shock, and desperate for safety, stability, protection and psychosocial care.
Large-scale refugee movements have taken place into neighbouring countries, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Slovakia.
As of 4 October 2022, over 7.6 million refugees from Ukraine are recorded across Europe, with 4.2 million registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes. Inside Ukraine, more than 7 million people have been internally displaced and 17.7 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, including 3.3 million children.
As war continues to ravage the country, families desperately seek safety and protection. The war and mass displacement, following over 8 years of conflict, is devastating livelihoods and economic opportunities, leaving many families without sufficient income to meet basic needs and unable to provide adequate support for their children.
Attacks using explosive weapons in populated urban areas continue to inflict civilian casualties and considerable damage to essential infrastructure and services. Children are being forced to protect themselves in underground shelters and subway stations, where conditions are dire.
Learn more: how to support your child during conflict and crisis situations
Children and women fleeing war in Ukraine are also at significant risk of family separation, violence, abuse, exploitation, and trafficking. They are in desperate need of safety, stability and protection. Many children on the move in and outside of Ukraine are unaccompanied or have been separated from their parents and family members.
Nearly 100,000 children in Ukraine were living in institutions, residential care and boarding schools – when the war escalated. Almost half of these children live with disabilities. Many of these institutions are trying to evacuate children to safety in neighboring countries or beyond.
UNICEF has developed guidance on how authorities and aid workers can help keep children displaced by the war in Ukraine safe from trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse.
What is UNICEF doing to help children and families?
UNICEF and partners are working tirelessly to scale up life-saving programmes and services for children. This includes:
- Ramping up efforts to meet critical and escalating needs for safe water, health care, education and protection.
- Delivering family hygiene kits, baby diapers, maternal health kits, institutional hygiene kits, disinfectants and bottled water to health and social institutions.
- Working with partners to provide safe drinking water supplies through water trucking and delivering bottled water.
- Delivering recreation kits, school-in-a-box kits and early childhood development kits to areas with large concentrations of displaced families.
- Supporting mobile child protection teams providing psychosocial care, mental health support, and protection services.
- Launching a humanitarian cash transfer programme to support tens of thousands of the most vulnerable families with children.
- Working with UNHCR and partners to activate Blue Dot safe spaces, protection and support hubs that bring together critical protection services and information for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, with a particular focus on children and those at greatest risk. These include unaccompanied and separated children, persons with disabilities, cases of suspected trafficking, survivors of sexual or gender-based violence and refugees from the LGBTIQ+ community.
Regional response offices
UNICEF Refugee Response in the Czech Republic
Supporting families who’ve fled the war and promoting the rights of every child in the Czech Republic
UNICEF Emergency Response in Hungary
Delivering multi-sectorial services for refugee and host-community children is at the heart of our work in Hungary
UNICEF Emergency Response in Italy
Italy supporting refugee and migrant families and children
UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland
Supporting families who’ve fled conflict and promoting the rights of every child in Poland
UNICEF Emergency Response Office in Slovakia
For every child in Slovakia, protection