Safe summer holidays: UNICEF, SES and Ukrainian Railways will teach teenagers about safe behaviour

21 May 2024
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UNICEF

Kyiv, 21 May 2024 – ​​As Ukraine enters its third year of war, children's safety continues to be at risk. The summer months are particularly dangerous, as children spend more time outdoors without adult supervision, often near water, forests, abandoned buildings and railways.

The dangers that lurk in these places now also include the serious threat of landmines, with Ukraine having become one of the most mine-contaminated countries in the world. In these conditions, even ordinary summer fun can become a real threat to children's lives and health.

"Children explore and develop by trying new things and experiences, but sometimes that means risky behaviour,” Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative to Ukraine stresses. “Plus, teenagers often hang out in places where danger might lurk, like water bodies, forests or abandoned buildings. That's why, all summer long, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the State Emergency Service (SES) will be showing children and teenagers how to stay safe during their holidays.”

In 2023, according to SES statistics, 67,934 fires occurred in Ukraine, killing 1,472 people, including 40 children. Another 1,551 people were injured by fire, including 145 children. Also last year, 1,039 people died in Ukrainian waters, including 94 children. Rescuers saved 362 people, 86 of them children. Meanwhile, some 26 per cent of Ukraine's territory is currently potentially contaminated with explosive ordnance.  The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine confirmed that 100 children were injured and 26 killed by mines and explosive remnants of war between February 24, 2022, and April 30, 2024.

To help keep children, teenagers and young people safe, UNICEF, along with the SES and Ukrainian Railways, is launching a campaign called ‘Safe Summer Holidays’. The materials present risky behaviour as an ‘anti-trend’ and cover four key safety topics – water, fire, explosives and trains. Instead of strict guidelines, the campaign features bright designs, colourful characters, dynamic videos and amusing TikTok videos, including collaborations with bloggers.

"The safety of our kids is a top concern for the SES,” explains Andriy Danik, acting head of the SES. “Our goal is to avoid any tragic outcomes that could happen during their activities. That's why we collaborate with partners to encourage safe behaviour, educate children and explain in simple terms how to have fun without getting hurt. We know it's tough, especially during wartime, but no matter what, kids deserve a safe childhood. As adults, it's our responsibility to make it happen.”

In 2023, 271 people suffered injuries of varying severity on railway infrastructure, 170 of which were fatal. Among the injured were 22 children under the age of 16, 10 of whom were fatally injured.  Since the beginning of 2024, 106 people have been injured on railways, 68 of them fatally. Among the injured were four children under the age of 16, one of whom was fatally injured.

"Unfortunately, even now, during the war, children continue to get injured and die when they break the rules of railway behaviour,” says Sabina Ablyaeva, Director of Strategic Communications at Ukrainian Railways. “Of course, we cannot fence off thousands of kilometres of tracks to prevent outsiders from getting there, but we must make every effort to convey a simple message to young people – the railway is dangerous and life is not worth a nice selfie on a carriage.”

All materials are available on the campaign website. Other useful development and play materials are available at https://spilnoteka.org/

As a part of the campaign, in early May 2024, UNICEF provided teachers with materials for lessons about safe summer holidays to help them teach students in grades 5 to 7 and grades 8 to 9 about water, fire, online and train safety. These lessons include methodological tips, presentations, quizzes, roleplay activities and checklists to deepen students' knowledge and build their safety skills.

The Safe Summer Holidays campaign materials and methodological materials for conducting safety lessons in schools were developed by experts from the SES and Ukrzaliznytsia, together with the EdEra online education studio and UNICEF, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Media contacts

Damian Rance
Chief Advocacy and Communications
UNICEF Ukraine

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org  

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