Family who fled city over last bridge out find shelter

Five-year-old Milana and her family escaped the shattered city of Chernihiv, Ukraine. Now, they are trying to pick up the pieces.

UNICEF
Image
UNICEF
01 June 2022

Five-year-old Milana and her mother managed to escape the burning city of Chernihiv, Ukraine, just days before the last bridge out was destroyed.

Terrified, they had been living with shelling for three weeks.

“We were there for three weeks under explosions. And when we left, our city was on fire. We escaped a few days before our bridge was blown up, so no one could leave at all,” says Milana’s mother, Maria.

Image
UNICEF

The bombs had shattered their windows and doors, and much of Chernihiv was in ruins. As of beginning of May, 27 schools, 37 kindergartens and three hospitals had been destroyed.

“Mum, how can I forget it all?”

Every evening the girl would ask her mother, Maria, complicated questions. When, one day, Milana and her mother emerged from their cellar to find everything around them in flames, they knew they needed to escape.

“Mother, everything is on fire,” Milana cried. “We are all going to die.”

Today, Maria and her daughter are safe in a shelter in Lviv, western Ukraine. Milana has found new friends, attends workshops and helps her mother with chores.

But, as the fighting in Ukraine continues, they have no idea when they will be able to return home to Milana’s father. 

Image
UNICEF

More than 8 million people in Ukraine – including 2.8 million children – are internally displaced. So far, over 11 million people have fled their homes, nearly a quarter of the total population. There is an urgent need for critical services and supplies in refugee-hosting regions and countries to support children and families who are fleeing violence.

UNICEF remains on the ground, providing support and protection to thousands. It has set up ‘Spilno’ safe spaces to provide critical support and protection services for children

and families, including the identification of unaccompanied children, psychosocial support, and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. It is also supporting multi-purpose cash interventions for vulnerable households with children and strengthening the capacity of national social protection systems to integrate refugee children.

UNICEF is also providing essential health services, including promotion of vaccination, and facilitating access to temporary learning.