Nearly half a year after the start of the war in Ukraine, the executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, Catherine Russell, denounced on Monday that the number of minors killed or injured in that conflict is close to a thousand.
“Since the war escalated nearly six months ago, at least 972 children have been killed or injured in violence in Ukraine, an average of more than five children killed or injured every day,” she warned.
Russell specified that these figures are what the UN was able to verify, but explained that he believes the true number of children killed or injured is much higher.
“The majority of child victims are due to the use of explosive weapons. These weapons do not discriminate between civilians and combatants, especially when they are used in populated areas, as has happened in Ukraine: in Mariupol, Luhansk, Kremenchuk and Vinnytsia. The list is endless,” she explained.
The executive director of UNICEF stressed that “the reckless decisions of adults”, a position that extended to all kinds of conflicts, are putting children in a situation of extreme risk.
“Meanwhile, beyond the horror of children being killed or injured during attacks, almost all children in Ukraine have been exposed to deeply distressing events, and those fleeing violence is at considerable risk of family separation, violence, abuse, sexual exploitation and human trafficking,” she warned.
“The Ukrainian education system has been devastated by the escalation of hostilities across the country. Schools have been targeted or used by parties, so families do not feel safe sending their children to school. We estimate that one in ten schools has been damaged or destroyed.
Amidst this panorama of destruction, Russell recalled the need for all children to go to school and learn, including those caught up in emergencies. “The children of Ukraine and those displaced by this war are no exception.”
“UNICEF continues to call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and for all children to be protected from harm. This includes an end to the brutal use of explosive weapons in populated areas and attacks on civilian facilities and infrastructure.”
The agency’s executive director explained that children urgently need “security, stability, access to safe learning, child protection services and psychosocial support” and added that the most urgent need for Ukrainian minors is peace.