UNICEF says no fewer than 1,000 boys and girls have been killed or injured in the war in Ukraine, underscoring the urgent need for peace.
“Once again, as in all wars, the reckless decisions of adults are putting children at extreme risk,’’ UNICEF’s Executive Director Catherine Russell stated on Monday.
“There are no armed operations of this kind that do not result in children being harmed,’’ she added.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine began nearly six months ago and UNICEF has verified that at least 972 children have been killed or injured in the violence.
This represents an average of more than five children a day.
“We believe the true number to be much higher,’’ Russell stressed.
She said most child casualties resulted from the use of explosive weapons, which do not discriminate between civilians and combatants.
This is more so in populated areas, as has been the case in cities such as Mariupol, Luhansk, Kremenchuk, Vinnytsia, and elsewhere, she added.
Meanwhile, almost every child in Ukraine has been exposed to deeply distressing events.
Those fleeing violence are at significant risk of family separation, abuse, sexual exploitation, further attacks, and trafficking.
Russell stated also that the start of the school year, in just over a week, serves as a stark reminder of how much children in Ukraine have lost.
The escalating hostilities have devastated the education system. UNICEF estimates that one in 10 schools has been damaged or destroyed, she added.
Schools have been targeted or used by parties to the fighting, which means families do not feel safe sending their children back to the classroom.
“All children need to be in school and learning; including children caught up in emergencies. Children in Ukraine and those displaced by this war are no exception,’’ Russell stated.
UNICEF called for an immediate ceasefire and stated that children must be protected from harm, which includes ending the “brutal use’’ of explosive weapons in populated areas.
“Ukraine’s children urgently need safety, stability, and access to safe learning, child protection services, and psychosocial support.
“More than anything, Ukraine’s children need peace,’’ Russell stated