The war in Ukraine has resulted in the largest growing refugee crisis since World War II. One-third of the country is displaced, either inside the country or in neighboring countries. As winter approaches, the situation is likely to only get worse, with another wave of Ukrainians from the east who have lost access to gas and electricity expected to flee for safety.
Nearly 1,000 children have been killed or injured since the war began, amounting to five children’s lives lost each day of the war. As children’s rights, safety and lives continue to be at risk, UNICEF is on the ground providing urgent humanitarian assistance and remains committed to mitigating the impacts of war on the children of Ukraine.
About the urgent crisis for children in Ukraine
UNICEF provides humanitarian aid, nutrition, education and services to support children and their families in Ukraine and in neighboring countries. Since the war began, UNICEF has been tirelessly working to save the children in Ukraine whose lives are at risk by providing critical supplies like food, water and health care, and ensuring children can receive an education.
Providing water purifying tablets, medical supplies, mobile health care teams, online education platforms, and shelter and protection in neighboring countries are just a few of the ways UNICEF has worked to save the lives of children in the past six months.
UNICEF is currently working with 13 neighboring countries in their refugee response, including Poland, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia, the countries with the highest numbers of refugees. Neighboring refugee-hosting countries are working to accommodate children into the national school system and register refugees for protection. Poland, for example, has registered 1.3 million refugees for temporary protection.
Challenges for children in Ukraine
Since the war began, children have been killed, injured, displaced, separated from their families and have faced conditions no child should experience. Homes have been destroyed and many families have lost access to electricity, water and shelter. With 40 percent of schools unable to open, many children are unsure when they will be able to resume learning. Children also face an increased risk of trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and other labor exploitation.
Stories of Delivering Aid to Children in Ukraine
Here are a few stories about the people UNICEF has reached through its programming.
Improving children’s lives through emergency cash transfer
When the gunfire began in Dymer, a village near Kyiv, Anna and her husband, parents of three children, thought the family would be safe in their cellar. But food, water and electricity quickly ran out and they were stuck, unable to leave and fearing for their lives. UNICEF provided humanitarian cash transfers, a program to help children and families in Ukraine by providing a way to access critical supplies.
Ten-year-old Danylo entertained his one-year-old brother Makar to give their parents the opportunity to prepare the basement in case of heavy shelling: equip it with warm blankets and stock up on food and drinking water. ©UNICEF/UN0693234/Boiko
Emergency mine safety training to protect the children in Ukraine
UNICEF and partners have launched interactive mine safety lessons for children in Poltava, a city in central Ukraine. The lessons teach children and their parents how to distinguish and protect themselves from explosive objects. “The thing I remembered the most was that mines are hidden in grass and toys. And when you see an unfamiliar object, you need to move to a safe distance and call 101,” shares Mykhailo, a 7-year-old boy.
Children enjoy watching short cartoons about mine safety and then discussing them with the juvenile prevention officers. ©UNICEF/UN0695355
After fleeing war, summer camp helps children flourish
Oleksandra and her 7-year-old son Pasha fled Kyiv at the start of the war to the Zakarpatska region. The community made sure the family had their needs taken care of. But Pasha missed his friends and hobbies. Then the family discovered Spilno Camp, a summer space for children to play, make new friends and learn in classes and workshops. In the camp, Pasha was able to be a child again, meeting a new best friend, shooting a video and going on field trips. Oleksandra has even said he has flourished from the experience.
Crisis for Children in Ukraine: By the numbers
- 5.2 million children in need of urgent assistance
- 6.9 million Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, in Europe
- 2 in 3 Ukrainian children forced to flee their home
- Roughly 10 percent of schools in Ukraine are damaged or destroyed
How UNICEF supports children in Ukraine
Since the war began, UNICEF has been on the ground working with partners to deliver lifesaving aid to the children of Ukraine. Here is a look at how UNICEF has supported children with critical programming in the last six months:
- nearly 4 million people received access to health care or medical supplies
- established 40 UNICEF-UNHCR Blue Dot centers, safe havens and service hubs for children and families in refugee-hosting countries
- provided mental health and psychosocial support to over 1.7 million children and caregivers
- enabled access to safe drinking water for nearly 3.6 million people
What can I do to help the children in Ukraine?
Help UNICEF provide urgent support for children affected by the Ukraine crisis. Donate Now.
Millions of children are unable to return to school. UNICEF is working with the Government of Ukraine to ensure children in Ukraine can get back to learning, whether in classrooms that are deemed safe or through online or community-based alternatives.
UNICEF has opened 40 centers across seven refugee-hosting countries for Ukrainian refugees. The center assists newly arrived refugees, providing them with temporary lodging, meals, mental health support and a cheerful playroom for children among other services. Here is a look inside one center in Brasov, Romania.
Sofia was born one month early with air raid sirens going off all around her. UNICEF has delivered portable incubators to several hospitals throughout Ukraine to save children of Ukraine who are born early. These incubators have allowed her to sleep quietly while maintaining the temperature of her body.