UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban visits Ukraine to highlight the ongoing impact of war on children

UNICEF official calls for a sustained humanitarian response and child-centred recovery in Ukraine

27 November 2023
Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, visits a UNICEF-supported multifunctional "Spilno" ('together' in Ukrainian) Children's Centre in Kharkiv City, Ukraine, on 21 November 2023. The centre provides seven different mental health and psychosocial support and non-formal education activities for children of different ages and caregivers including group and individual counselling, art and therapy with dogs, programming, stop motion clay animation, and soun
UNICEF
Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, visits a UNICEF-supported multifunctional "Spilno" ('together' in Ukrainian) Children's Centre in Kharkiv City, Ukraine, on 21 November 2023. The centre provides seven different mental health and psychosocial support and non-formal education activities for children of different ages and caregivers including group and individual counselling, art and therapy with dogs, programming, stop motion clay animation, and sound design classes.

KYIV, 27 November 2023—UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, Ted Chaiban, concluded today a one-week visit to Ukraine highlighting the urgent need for continued humanitarian response in conflict-affected areas, and for children to be at the forefront of recovery and rebuilding efforts.  

“Children in Ukraine have endured 21 months of violence, displacement, suffering and loss since the escalation of the war in February 2022. This war is robbing millions of children of their childhoods, depriving them of their rights to education, health, development, protection and safety,” said Chaiban.

Grave violations of children’s rights in Ukraine continue, with 1,781 children reportedly killed or injured since February 2022. Meanwhile, persistent fighting, and a widespread risk to mines and explosive ordnances, place children’s safety at high risk. Schools and hospitals continue to be damaged by strikes, disrupting access to safe learning and vital services, including healthcare and water infrastructure.  

Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, at an event in Kyiv that UNICEF organised to commemmorate World Children's Day on 20 November 2023, with the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, and six children and young people who spoke to an audience that included representatives of Government, UN, and civil society partners. The children and youth speakers shared stories about the challenges they have faced like the loss of a parent because of the war etc
UNICEF
Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, at an event in Kyiv that UNICEF organised to commemmorate World Children's Day on 20 November 2023, with the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, and six children and young people who spoke to an audience that included representatives of Government, UN, and civil society partners. The children and youth speakers shared stories about the challenges they have faced like the loss of a parent because of the war, mental health, bullying, growing up in an institution, and living with a disability.

“Children and the civilian infrastructure that they rely on should not be a target. They must be protected at all times. International humanitarian law, humanitarian principles, and human rights law must be respected,” said Chaiban. 

The stress of war is having a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children in Ukraine. At present, an estimated 1.5 million children are at risk of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions.

Beyond the life-threatening violence, children in Ukraine are facing a fourth year of disrupted education. According to the Ministry of Education, more than 4,100 schools have been damaged or destroyed. The closure of schools and kindergartens due to attacks and the lack of safe bomb shelters is hindering children from accessing full-time face-to-face learning. Although children can continue learning online, they miss out on socialization with their peers and teachers which is crucial for their development.  During the visit, the UNICEF Deputy Executive Director advocated for blended learning where security conditions allow. 

Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, and Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Ukraine Representative, visit a UNICEF-supported Digital Learning Centre in School No. 15 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
UNICEF
Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, and Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Ukraine Representative, visit a UNICEF-supported Digital Learning Centre in School No. 15 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Children can attend their online classes in this safe space, where they can also interact with their peers, teachers, and attend other learning activities to support their continued learning.

Chaiban visited frontline areas in the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions, where UNICEF continues its humanitarian response. As winter deepens, UNICEF is providing life-saving support like warm winter clothes, blankets, safe water, and psychosocial support to children and families. UNICEF is also providing generators and supporting the repair of local distribution systems so water supply systems, hospitals and other critical services can continue functioning. Humanitarian cash transfers are helping vulnerable families, like those raising children with disabilities, to get by as they continue to face economic hardships because of the war.

“Children and families in Ukraine face yet another difficult winter. In 2022, strikes on critical infrastructure severely disrupted electricity, water and heating across the country. On my last day there were serious of attacks happened in Kyiv. With the threat of renewed and intensified attacks, children are once again at risk of freezing temperatures well below zero and losing access to safe water and critical services like healthcare,” Chaiban warns. 

Chaiban met senior officials of the Ukrainian Government and key partners to discuss priorities for children in both humanitarian response and recovery efforts, participated in the World Children’s Day event and the launch of “Better Care” Strategy. He reiterated UNICEF’s support for the children of Ukraine, both inside Ukraine and in refugee-hosting countries. Chaiban also called for child-centred rebuilding and recovery that focuses on children’s needs. 

The Deputy Executive Director’s visit to Ukraine comes at a time of renewed focus on the impact of conflict on children. UNICEF estimates that 400 million children globally are living in or fleeing conflict zones, facing multiple and severe risks. As hostilities continue unabated, Ukraine’s 7.5 million children face an uncertain future. 

“Children are not responsible for this war, yet they are paying the highest price for it. The children of Ukraine need peace, now. Without peace, their future—and the future of Ukraine—will remain uncertain. Children need an end to the war so they can regain their childhoods and start to heal and recover,” said Chaiban.  

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Notes to Editors:  

Data sources:  

 

Media contacts

Damian Rance
Chief Advocacy and Communications
UNICEF Ukraine

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