War in Ukraine: Support for children and families
More than 3 months of war have been devastating for Ukraine’s families. UNICEF and partners are on the ground providing support for those in need.
More than three months into the war, and 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. Many have seen things no child should ever see. Their homes have been hit. Their schools have been attacked, along with all the systems that could help them survive. Families are terrified, in shock, and desperate for safety.
By the middle of June, more than 7 million people had been internally displaced, while more than 5 million refugees had been recorded across Europe. The large-scale displacement of people since the war started 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 to help UNICEF’s work with children in Ukraine
How is UNICEF helping children and families?
UNICEF is working around the clock with partners to scale up life-saving programmes for children.
Inside Ukraine, UNICEF and partners have:
- Distributed life-saving health and medical supplies to reach around 2.2 million children and families.
- Reached 25,000 households with multi-purpose cash assistance.
- Helped more than 2.5 million people access safe water in areas where networks have been damaged or destroyed.
- Helped more than 288,000 children through the provision of learning supplies.
- Assisted around 58,000 children through case management and referral services.
In countries hosting Ukrainian refugees, UNICEF has:
- Supported national, municipal and local systems that deliver essential services and protection, particularly for the most vulnerable children, including through: anti-trafficking training for border guards; expanding learning opportunities and integrating refugee children into schools; procuring vaccines and medical supplies; and establishing play and learning hubs that provide young children with a much-needed sense of normalcy and respite.
- Worked 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.
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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 the middle of June, more than 7 million people had been internally displaced, while more than 5 million refugees had been recorded across Europe. 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.