09 April 2024

After landmine horror, Ukrainian teenager hopes to walk again

It is dark in 16-year-old Yaroslav's bedroom – the windows of his small home in Izium, Ukraine are covered with thick wooden shutters to protect those inside from shrapnel. There is no electricity due to recent shelling and the only source of light in his room is the blue screen of a smartphone, on which he is watching a video about how to wear a…, “We lived in a gymnasium with beds”, Today was supposed to be the day that Yaroslav visited the hospital in Kharkiv to have a cast made for his prosthesis. However, yesterday, shelling damaged power networks and, without a stable power supply, the hospital was forced to postpone Yaroslav’s appointment. This is not the first time that the war has crushed Yaroslav’s dreams. When the…, "My father saved me", Yaroslav wishes that dreadful October day in 2023 had never happened and often thinks about what he could have done differently. That day, the teenager rode his moped to their village to help his father to clear the rubble. But the moped's chain slipped and he veered off the road into the grass, hitting a flower-petal landmine. "I remember a very…, “I would like to be able to walk”, Today, Yaroslav’s hobbies and friends are the main sources of joy in life. He attends school online and rarely leaves the house due to his injury. With a prosthesis, he hopes to be able to make plans for the future once more.   "I would like to be able to walk and ride a moped or a motorbike as soon as possible," he says, sadly. Image After more…
04 April 2024

Teenager who survived blast urges others to avoid mine dangers

When 15-year-old Nastia learned that doctors had removed 30 pieces of shrapnel from her body following a landmine explosion last year, she knew she was lucky to be alive. "If the shrapnel had struck my neck just half an inch to the left, it would have severed my carotid artery,” says Nastia, who lives in Ukraine’s Kharkivska region. “That would…, "My school is ruined, my house is destroyed", Nastia was 13 years old when she saw a tank for the first time in her life. It stopped outside her front yard and pointed its muzzle in the direction of her home. It was February 2022, not long after the full-scale war had first broken out, and her hometown had become a battlefield. Even now, she struggles to fully comprehend the scale of the…, “I saw that my legs were covered in blood”, Red signs warning of landmines are everywhere in Izium. Some of Nastia’s favourite spots and even normal city routes have become inaccessible. "Our forests, cemeteries and exits from the city are mined,” she says. “We don't go to the river because it's dangerous. We used to go mushrooming as a family, but now we don't. A boy from my school was…, “Our stories are a warning not to go near or touch mines”, Nastia touches the white scars on her legs, where pieces of metal from the detonator punctured her skin. "I counted,” she says. “I had 23 shrapnel wounds on one leg, three on the other and one very large wound on my leg. I had one piece of shrapnel in my neck and three in my eyebrow.” Today, as a result of her terrifying experience, Nastia is…
02 January 2024

Children learn to stay safe thanks to special mobile classes

Nine-year-old Nastya and her school friends have just taken part in a mobile safety class in Malynivka, Ukraine, in which specialists from the police and State Emergency Service (SES) spoke to them about subjects including mine safety, fire hazards and cybersecurity.  "Today, we learned how to behave with fire and why we can't approach mines"…, Children at the mobile safety class in Malynivka, Kharkiv region, UNICEF Настя (9) робить іграшку-антистрес разом з психологинею ДСНС в мобільному класі безпеки в Малинівці на Харківщині Image, Nastya (9) makes an anti-stress toy with a psychologist from the emergency department during the mobile safety class in Malynivka, Kharkiv region, UNICEF Дошкільнята на занятті в мобільному класі безпеки в Малинівці Харківської області Image, Preschoolers at the mobile safety class in Malynivka, Kharkiv region, UNICEF Діти слухають лекцію з мінної безпеки Настя (9) робить іграшку-антистрес разом з психологинею ДСНС в мобільному класі безпеки в Малинівці на Харківщині Дошкільнята на занятті в мобільному класі безпеки в Малинівці Харківської області To keep children safe, UNICEF and partners continue to conduct mine safety classes across the country, using…
04 December 2023

Teenager who survived mine explosion stresses safety rules

In the Ukrainian city of Izium, 17-year-old Habriel stands at a bus stop riddled with shrapnel. Here, 80 per cent of the landscape lies in ruins, and locals are used to shelling and gunfire. But for Habriel, this battle-scarred bus stop serves as a stark reminder of one terrifying winter evening he will never forget. Back in February, the teenager…, “I was deafened”, The first moments in the aftermath of the explosion were the most frightening. Habriel recalls a sense of disorientation and fear for his friends. "I was deafened,” he remembers. “Everything was a blur of white before my eyes. I couldn't see anything – there was a ringing noise in my ears.” The first thing he saw was his wounded friends, who had…, “We lost contact”, For Habriel, like millions of children across Ukraine, the war has been devastating. Last year, before the explosion, he and his mother spent nine challenging months in a Czech Republic refugee camp. "Our house was decimated by shells,” says Habriel. “First, we were hiding in the church basement, but it was difficult for my sick and frightened…, The way forward, After more than nine years of fighting in the east of the country and almost two years on from the start of the full-scale war that broke out on 24 February 2022, approximately 30 per cent of Ukraine’s territory is potentially contaminated with mines or explosive remnants of war. These have caused the deaths and injuries of many children in…