Ukraine facing ‘child protection crisis of extraordinary proportions’: UN
Russia-Ukraine war has impacted all children’s psychosocial wellbeing, says UNICEF official
Ukraine is facing "a child protection crisis of extraordinary proportions" which may not have been seen before, a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official said on Friday.
“Hundreds of children have been killed, and many more injured. Nearly 200 attacks have been reported against health care facilities, and schools continue to be impacted by strikes,” Aaron Greenberg, UNICEF’s Regional Child Protection adviser for Europe and Central Asia, said while speaking from the Ukrainian city of Lviv at a biweekly UN press conference hosted by the UN in Geneva.
He said two months of the war that Russia launched in Ukraine has left 7.7 million people internally displaced and driven over 5.5 million people across international borders, including nearly two-thirds of all children in Ukraine.
“The war has impacted all children’s psychosocial wellbeing,” said the UNICEF official as the UN announced that at least 324 children are known to have been killed due to the war.
“Children have been uprooted from their homes, separated from caregivers, and directly exposed to war. Children have been shaken by bomb explosions and the blaring sirens of missile alert systems.”
He said that nearly all children are coping with the absence of their fathers, older male siblings, or uncles as almost all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are mobilized for the war.
“And, most importantly, many children have witnessed or experienced physical and sexual violence,” said Greenberg. “Let me emphasize a particular problem we’re seeing. The workforce in Ukraine – social workers, child psychologists, and other professionals – are equally impacted by this conflict.”
He said UNICEF is anticipating numbers for all forms of violence against children to be in the tens of thousands.
Before Feb. 24, Ukraine’s orphanages, boarding schools, and other institutions for youngsters housed more than 91,000 children, around half with disabilities. According to UNICEF, only around one-third of that number have returned home, including those evacuated from the east and south.