War in Ukraine: Support for children and families
UNICEF and partners are on the ground providing support to children and families in desperate need of safety, stability and protection.
The war in Ukraine is having a devastating impact on the country’s 7.5 million children. Humanitarian needs are multiplying by the hour as the fighting continues. Children continue to be killed, wounded and deeply traumatized by the violence all around them. Families are terrified, in shock, and desperate for safety.
How to help UNICEF’s work with children in Ukraine
The past eight years of conflict in Ukraine have already inflicted profound and lasting harm on children. Now, the threats to Ukraine’s children have only grown. By 9 May, almost 6 million refugees had fled Ukraine, around half of them children. Millions more people have been internally displaced. Such large-scale displacements could have lasting consequences for generations to come. Children fleeing war in Ukraine are also at heightened risk of human trafficking and exploitation. Meanwhile, attacks using explosive weapons in populated urban areas continue to inflict civilian casualties including among children, and considerable damage to essential infrastructure and services. As a result, children’s homes, schools, hospitals, water systems, power plants, and places where civilians are seeking shelter have been damaged or destroyed.
UNICEF is working with partners to reach vulnerable children and families with essential services – including health, education, protection, water and sanitation – as well as life-saving supplies.
How is UNICEF helping children and families?
UNICEF is working around the clock to scale up life-saving programmes 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.
- Providing essential health services, including promotion of vaccination (including COVID-19 and polio vaccination), infant and young child feeding, and essential supplies including vaccines, health supplies, medicines and micronutrient supplements.
- Working with partners to provide safe drinking water supplies through water trucking and delivering bottled water.
- Facilitating access to temporary learning, including the distribution of education and recreational supplies for children and adolescents as well as recreational and early childhood development activities.
- Supporting mobile child protection teams providing psychosocial care, mental health support, and protection services.
- Supporting multi-purpose cash transfer payments for vulnerable households with children, including children with disabilities, and strengthening the capacity of national social protection systems to integrate refugee children.
- Working with UNHCR and partners to activate Blue Dot hubs – one-stop safe spaces for children and women. Blue Dots provide key information to traveling families, help to identify unaccompanied and separated children and ensure their protection.
Latest Ukraine news and stories
What’s happening in Ukraine?
The war in Ukraine poses an enormous threat to the country’s 7.5 million children. In areas seeing some of the most intense fighting, residential neighbourhoods, as well as health facilities and water and electricity systems are being damaged or destroyed, placing children at extreme risk. The country is running low on critical supplies.
By 9 May, almost 6 million refugees had fled Ukraine, while millions more people have been internally displaced. Meanwhile, children are still being forced to protect themselves in underground shelters and subway stations, where conditions are dire. Women are giving birth in makeshift maternity wards with limited medical supplies.
In addition, attacks on hospitals, healthcare facilities, and medical equipment – and the killing and injuring of healthcare professionals – are making it even harder for people to access emergency care, basic healthcare, and medicine.
Since the outbreak of war in February, hundreds of schools across the country are reported to have been hit due to the use of heavy artillery, airstrikes and other explosive weapons in populated areas, whilst others are being used as information centres, shelters, supply hubs, or for military purposes.
Children across Ukraine are in desperate need of safety, stability, protection and psychosocial care. War and mass displacement has harmed families’ livelihoods and economic opportunities, leaving many without sufficient income to meet their basic needs and unable to provide adequate support for their children.
After eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine, children and their families need systematic protection services to address gender-based violence and violence against children, and to access psychosocial care. Mine risk education and mine victim assistance are critical as explosive ordnance contamination remains a major threat to life, safety and stability.
UNICEF calls for an immediate cease-fire and reminds all parties of their international obligations to protect children from harm, and to ensure that humanitarian actors can safely and quickly reach children in need.