Two million refugee children flee war in Ukraine in search of safety across borders

With an additional 2.5 million children displaced within country, 60 per cent of children now forced from their homes as attacks on urban areas continue

30 March 2022
Moldova. Families stand in line at the border crossing between Ukraine and Moldova.
UNICEF/UN0613966// Vincent Tremeau

NEW YORK/GENEVA/KYIV, 30 March 2022 – Two million children have now been forced to flee Ukraine, as the war rages on.

“The situation inside Ukraine is spiralling,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “As the number of children fleeing their homes continues to climb, we must remember that every single one of them needs protection, education, safety and support.”  

Children make up half of all refugees from the war in Ukraine, according to UNICEF and UNHCR. More than 1.1 million children have arrived in Poland, with hundreds of thousands also arriving in Romania, Moldova, Hungary Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

UNICEF continues to warn of the heightened risk of trafficking and exploitation. To seek to reduce the risks children and young people face, UNICEF, UNHCR and government and civil society partners are scaling up “Blue Dots” in refugee-hosting countries, including Moldova, Romania and Slovakia. The ‘Blue Dots’ are one-stop safe spaces that can provide information to travelling families, help identify unaccompanied and separated children and ensure their protection from exploitation and serve as a hub for access to essential services.  

UNICEF is also working urgently with national governments and other authorities across the region to put further measures in place to keep children safe, including strengthening child protection screening at border crossings.

UNICEF estimates that more than 2.5 million children have been internally displaced within Ukraine. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented more than 100 children have been killed during the conflict, and a further 134 children have been injured. The true toll is likely to be much higher.

UNICEF is also deeply concerned for children and families stranded in, or unable to leave, encircled areas due to heightened security risks and lack of safe exit routes. Reports of severe shortages of food, water, heat and other basic essentials continue to increase, highlighting the importance of safe, unfettered humanitarian access to all areas of the country.

Some children who have fled Ukraine are still able to access their Ukrainian school curriculum online. For others, collective efforts must be made, including by refugee-hosting countries, to make sure that their education continues. In addition to the opportunity to keep learning, access to education also gives children some stability, protection and a sense of belonging in a time of uncertainty.

UNICEF continues to scale up its response inside Ukraine and across the refugee-hosting countries.

This week, UNICEF began a humanitarian cash transfer programme to support 52,000 of the most vulnerable families inside Ukraine.

As of 28 March 2022, UNICEF has dispatched 114 trucks carrying 1,275 metric tons of emergency supplies to support children and families in Ukraine and the bordering countries. 63 trucks of supplies have arrived in Ukraine, which will address the needs of over 8 million people including 2 million children. The supplies include medicines and medical equipment, winter clothes for children, and hygiene, educational, early childhood development, and recreational kits.


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