UNICEF: War a 'nightmare for Ukraine’s children'
By Francesca Merlo
As of Tuesday, the United Nations estimated in the past six weeks there had been 4,450 civilian casualties in Ukraine, with at least 1,892 people killed and 2,558 injured. Meanwhile, nearly 3 million children in Ukraine are in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 4.5 million people - over 90% of whom are women and children - have crossed into neighbouring countries as refugees; while IOM estimates that 7.1 million people are now internally displaced. More than 50% of displaced families have children.
Neighbouring Poland has welcomed the most refugees fleeing the terror in Ukraine, with Caritas Poland at the forefront in bringing aid to the 2.6million people who have crossed into the country. In a statement released on Wednesday, Caritas Poland announced that it has raised 100 million zloty, which is being distributed amongst the various Caritas organisations in the country.
Since the influx of refugees began, the statement reads, various dioceses have been preparing "30,000 sandwiches a day for refugees from the beginning of this great humanitarian crisis. In total, Caritas has provided more than 1.5 million meals to people arriving from Ukraine; 19,500 people have benefited from Caritas transportation assistance, and more than 8,300 families have been supported in Caritas centres".
Death of children
The UNICEF statement notes that with regard to the death of children, the UN has so far verified the deaths of 142 children, with about 230 injured. "The real figures are almost certainly much higher, given the scale of the attacks. They have been injured in the very places where they should be safest - their homes, emergency shelters, even hospitals".
After travelling to numerous Ukrainian cities, Manuel Fontaine described the evolving humanitarian conditions on the ground, so as to be able to adapt UNICEF's response to meet the growing needs of children and their families.
He recounts his visit to the hospital in Zaporizhzhia, where he was told that since the beginning of the war "they have treated 22 children who have lost limbs as a result of the violence".
UNICEF's response is evolving to meet the needs of children wherever they are. "We are pre-positioning more supplies in areas in the east where we fear the conflict will escalate. Spilno Centres' have been set up in strategic locations to support children and families on the move within Ukraine. These integrated centres include a space for children to play, staff who can provide psychological support and other services, such as a place to get treatment for previous illnesses.
"We are also providing money to 52,000 families to partly alleviate the impacts of the loss of their livelihoods and to start a life in a new place.
"Across the country, we have reached nearly 600,000 people with life-saving medical aid through hospitals and maternity centres in Dnipro, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kiev, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Vinnytsia and Zhytomyr. And we provided nearly 240,000 people with clean water and hygiene supplies in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kiev and Lviv".
Fontaine ends his statement by stressing that although the aid being provided to Ukraine is reaching many people, "humanitarian partners can only go so far. First and foremost, the children of Ukraine urgently need, and deserve, a peaceful resolution."