This content is not available in your region

Nearly two-thirds of Ukrainian children displaced by war, says UN

Access to the comments Comments
By  Karolina Bohacova with AP
In the courtyard of their house, Vlad, 6, stands near the grave of his mother, who died, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022
In the courtyard of their house, Vlad, 6, stands near the grave of his mother, who died, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

Nearly two-thirds of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children have fled their homes since the start of Russia’s invasion in February, the UN's children’s agency has said.

Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s emergency programmes director, who just returned from Ukraine, said he had rarely seen "so much damage caused in so little time" during his 31 years of humanitarian work.

"In just six weeks, nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been displaced. They have been forced to leave everything behind: their homes, their schools, and often, their family members," Fontaine told the UN Security Council.

During his speech, Fontaine detailed his experiences in Ukraine and shared stories of children impacted by the war.

Among them was Vlad, a four-year-old boy who was shot twice in the stomach as his family tried to escape a contested area. Fontaine said Vlad is now recovering in an intensive care unit in Zaporizhizia hospital.

The UN has verified 229 cases of injured children and 142 deaths in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.

However, UN officials admit the numbers are likely to be much higher.

Out of the displaced children, 2.8 million have stayed in Ukraine and two million more are sheltering in other countries.

More than three million children are still left in their homes in Ukraine but might not have enough food and some are without access to running water, the UNICEF’s programmes director said.

Fontaine added all systems that help children survive are also under attack, including hospitals, schools and residential houses.

The worst situation is in the besieged cities in southern Ukraine, such as Mariupol and Kherson, where people live without access to sanitation services, medical care, running water and food supplies.

Fontaine said some parents had to take "drastic steps" to send their children to safety, including leaving them unaccompanied with truck drives to get them away from the front lines.

Those children are at a much higher risk of violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking, Fontaine told the UN briefing, adding that Ukrainian women face "similar risks".

He said UNICEF was "extremely concerned" by the increasing reports of sexual violence.

"Every day the war continues, children will continue to suffer," said Fontaine.

The UN Security Council meeting on the impact of the war on women and children was convened by the US and Albania during Britain’s presidency of the body.

Both the US and Albanian ambassadors, and many others, pointed to the discovery of bodies, some with hands tied behind their backs, in the town of Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv following the withdrawal of Russian troops, and the missile that killed at least 52 mainly women and children at the train station in eastern Kramatorsk.

Russian deputy ambassador Dmitry Polyansky denied accusations that his country was creating a dire situation for women and children.

Polyansky said Ukraine, along with the West, were promoting "fakes and propaganda" as part of "the information war unleashed against Russia".