War in Ukraine – The Impact on Children

War in Ukraine – The Impact on Children
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Manon Picard

International Justice and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

Today marks 100 days since the Russian Federation’s invasion over the territory of Ukraine. During that time, many families, mainly women and children, have fled the country whilst others have lost their lives. On the 1st of June 2022, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) discussed the impact of the war on children. Catherine Russell, the UNICEF Executive Director, made the following statement: 

“June 1 is the International Day for Protection of Children in Ukraine and across the region […] Instead of celebrating the occasion, we are solemnly approaching June 3 – the 100th day of a war that has shattered the lives of millions of children. Without an urgent ceasefire and negotiated peace, children will continue to suffer– and fallout from the war will impact vulnerable children around the world”. 

UNICEF estimated that 5.2 million Ukrainian children are in need of humanitarian assistance with 3 million still living within Ukrainian territory. The Agency stated that the infrastructures children depend on are being destroyed such as schools and “at least 256 health facilities and one in six UNICEF-supported ‘Safe Schools’ in the country’s east”. In addition to experiencing war at such a young age, children are also at a significantly higher risk of being exposed to sexual exploitation and trafficking; thus, creating a child protection crisis. As displaced Ukrainian families are currently unable to work, UNICEF stated that these children “need safety, stability, child protection services, and psychosocial support”. 

In addition, Amin Awad, UN Crisis Coordinator in Ukraine, stated during an interview on the 2nd of June 2022 that “there are almost eight million people displaced internally, and another six million abroad”. Making reference to the children that have remained within Ukrainian territory, Mr. Awad stated the following: 

“There's a lot of suffering. Driving through some of these areas of destruction, I see children who have escaped the destruction of their homes or apartment building, and find themselves alone on the road, with no parents, no guardians, and nowhere to go”. 

The UN Crisis Coordinator in Ukraine is already coming up with a strategy to support the Ukrainian population during the upcoming winter despite his “optimism that the war will end, because neither Ukraine nor Russia can afford it”. At the end of the interview, Amin Awad reiterated that “[t]here are no gains in any war. Everybody loses”.

Sources and further reading:

United Nations. (2022, June 1). Ukraine: At least two children killed in war every day, says UNICEF. UN News. Retrieved on June 3, 2022, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/06/1119432

United Nations. (2022, June 2). Interview: ‘Any way you look at it, wars are evil’, UN Ukraine Crisis chief. UN News. Retrieved on June 3, 2022, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/06/1119642