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Thousands of children out of school after classrooms hit by heavy shelling in eastern Ukraine

Kyiv/Geneva, 6 February 2017 – Thousands of children have been forced out of school in eastern Ukraine due to last week’s surge in fighting. At least five schools and two kindergartens have been damaged by heavy shelling and 11 other schools have had to close, according to humanitarian organisations supporting the emergency education response in Ukraine.

More than 2,600 children from 13 schools in government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine have been affected by the sharp escalation in fighting, along with hundreds more from schools in non-government controlled areas. In the town of Avdiivka, seven schools and kindergartens remain shut, with almost 1,400 children out of school. Families in Avdiivka and other villages in the area are afraid of sending their children to the schools that remain open, due to the heavy fighting and fears of unexploded ordnance in the streets.

UNICEF and Save the Children strongly condemn the indiscriminate shelling of schools, and call for all sides to immediately recommit to the ceasefire signed in Minsk in August 2015. The organizations urge all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and ensure that schools and other civilian infrastructure are never attacked or in the line of fire.

Michele Cecere, Save the Children’s Representative in Ukraine, said: “Schools being shelled has tragically become commonplace in this conflict. There are reports of large numbers of unexploded ordnance in the streets, putting children at enormous risk when going to school, even when they can reopen. It’s vital that children can get safely back to school as soon as possible so they don’t miss out on any more learning.”

Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF’s Representative in Ukraine, said: “The shelling of schools, the one place where children find safety and normalcy during conflict, is unacceptable and has to stop. Children in eastern Ukraine have suffered enough and we must ensure that they have safe spaces to seek solace and support.”

The latest closure of schools has worsened the ongoing education crisis already affecting more than 600,000 children in eastern Ukraine. After nearly three years of conflict, more than 740 school – one in five – have been damaged or destroyed, resulting in girls and boys missing many months of schooling due to displacement and the effects of conflict.

Photo Credit: UNICEF/Artem Hetman – high-resolution photos taken on 25 and 26 January 2017 in Marinka and Krasnohorivka schools located close to the contact line in Donetsk region, Ukraine

Background:

6 February 2017 – Thousands of children have been forced out of school in eastern Ukraine due to last week’s surge in fighting. At least five schools and two kindergartens have been damaged by heavy shelling, and 11 other schools have had to close, according to humanitarian organisations supporting the emergency education response in Ukraine.

More than 2,600 children from 13 schools in government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine have been affected by the sharp escalation in fighting, along with hundreds more from schools in non-government controlled areas. Families in Avdiivka and other villages in the area are afraid of sending their children to the schools that remain open, due to the heavy fighting and fears of unexploded ordnance in the streets.


UNICEF_Hetman_20170126_01: On 26 January, a teacher helps first grade students to complete a writing assignment in Krasnohorivka school No. 5, Donetsk region, Ukraine. Sandbags reinforce classroom windows and are intended to prevent them from shattering during the frequent shellings.


UNICEF_Hetman_20170125_02: On 25 January, Rodion, 11 years old, a fifth grade student, stands by a window with a bullet hole in Marinka school No 2, which is located on the contact line in Donetsk region, Ukraine.


UNICEF_Hetman_20170126_03: On 26 January, Angelina, 10 years old, a fourth grade studen, writes on the blackboard during the class in Marinka school No. 2 in Donetsk region, Ukraine. Containing 21 tons of sand, the sandbags in the background reinforce the classroom windows and are intended to prevent them from shattering during the frequent shellings.


UNICEF_Hetman_20170126_04: On 26 January, Elizaveta, 9 years old, a third grade student, writes in her notebook during a class in Marinka school No. 2. Containing 21 tons of sand, the sandbags in the background reinforce the classroom windows and are intended to prevent them from shattering during the frequent shellings.

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Notes to Editors:
Pictures can be downloaded from link: https://we.tl/jXAgFJRZuh

About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org
Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook
For more information, please contact:
Iuliia Poberezhna, UNICEF Kyiv, +380 50 388 29 51, ipoberezhna@unicef.org
Kristen Elsby, UNICEF Geneva, +41 79 938 8273, kelsby@unicef.org

About Save the Children
Save the Children works to deliver change for children in around 120 countries. We launched a direct emergency response in Ukraine in 2014 as a result of the crisis, and are delivering essential humanitarian aid, helping children access education and setting up centres to help children overcome their experiences through psychosocial support. 

For more information about Save the Children, visit www.savethechildren.net
Follow Save the Children on Twitter
For more information, please contact:
Michele Cecere, Save the Children, +380 50 277 77 37, Michele.Cecere@Savethechildren.org
Alun McDonald, Save the Children, +962 791 799 287, alun.mcdonald@savethechildren.org

 

 
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