Refugees in Korczowa, Poland, visited by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski during his mission there Refugees in Korczowa, Poland, visited by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski during his mission there 

UN humanitarian agencies scale up efforts to save children in Ukraine

The United Nations Children's Fund has sounded the alarm on the suffering of children in Ukraine and the rapidly increasing humanitarian needs they are trying to meet to help them.

By Thaddeus Jones

UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, have issued a joint statement underscoring the plight of unaccompanied and separated children fleeing the escalating conflict in Ukraine and the urgent need to protect them.

The conflict has weighed heavily on the country's 7.5 million children. Hundreds of thousands of them are already refugees, many unaccompanied or separated from their parents and family members.

Unaccompanied refugee minors

The statement notes that "children without parental care are at a heightened risk of violence, abuse and exploitation. When these children are moved across borders, the risks are multiplied. The risk of trafficking also soars in emergencies."

Both UN agencies have appealed to neighbouring and impacted countries to ensure the immediate identification and registration of children fleeing from Ukraine.

They have asked for States to offer safe spaces for children and their families, emergency care where needed and support possible to safeguard them. They encourage all efforts to keep families together during relocation or evacuation of areas, and to reunify children with their families if they have been separated. 

“We must protect all children in Ukraine. Now. They need peace.”

Long-term conflict damage

UNICEF, which works in over 190 countries and territories, has noted how the past eight years of conflict in Ukraine have already inflicted profound and lasting harm to children, with homes, schools, orphanages, and hospitals hit by attacks.

The UN agency has scaled up its efforts to assure provision of vital humanitarian supplies, essential in assisting vulnerable children and their families with health, education, protection, water, and sanitation.

The joint statement by UNHCR and UNICEF expresses gratitude for the solidarity and readiness shown by States to support unaccompanied and separated children, encouraging them to provide above all immediate safety, food and shelter while mid to longer term solutions are identified.

"UNHCR and UNICEF are committed to working hand-in-hand to support national authorities to protect children, ensuring that their safety and protection are at the centre of the response."

Listen to the report on the appeal of UN agencies

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

09 March 2022, 12:40