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Children in Ukraine endure a year of horror amid escalating conflict

A generation of children in Ukraine has endured a year of violence, fear, loss and tragedy since the escalation of the war on February 24, 2022. The conflict has taken a heavy toll on children, impacting every aspect of their lives. Children have been killed, injured, and forced from their homes, and have missed out on critical education, leaving them without the benefits of a safe and secure environment.

The economic and energy crises triggered by the war have had devastating effects on the well-being of families and children. According to a recent survey by UNICEF, 80% of respondents noted a deterioration in their economic situation, with the percentage of children living in poverty almost doubling from 43% to 82%. Moreover, the mental health and well-being of children have been significantly affected, with an estimated 1.5 million children at risk of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The healthcare system in Ukraine has also suffered severe damage, with more than 800 health facilities damaged or destroyed by shelling and airstrikes. Children are missing out on vital vaccines to protect them from life-threatening diseases, and thousands of them have been left without access to basic services. The situation is especially acute for the 5.9 million people who are currently displaced within Ukraine.

Despite the challenges, UNICEF has been working tirelessly to provide support to children and their families. Since February 24, 2022, UNICEF has provided learning supplies to 1.8 million children, engaged over 2.5 million children in formal and non-formal education, and provided mental health and psychosocial support to 4.6 million children and caregivers. In addition, UNICEF has provided access to safe water for 5.6 million people, healthcare services to 5.4 million people, and gender-based violence response services to 725,000 women and children.

UNICEF is calling for an end to the war and sustained peace to help children regain their childhoods and return to normalcy. Education has been one of the most significant casualties of the conflict, with more than five million children affected. This has left them without a sense of structure, safety, normality, and hope that the classroom provides. UNICEF is advocating for an end to hostilities, safe and rapid humanitarian access, and an end to attacks on children and the infrastructure they rely on.

To address the immediate and longer-term needs of 9.4 million people, including 4 million children, both inside and outside Ukraine, UNICEF requires $1.1 billion. Funding will enable UNICEF to provide essential services in health, nutrition, child protection, gender-based violence, water and sanitation, and social protection alongside government relief and recovery efforts. Timely preparedness for additional internal displacements and refugee movements is crucial to meet the needs of the affected children and their families.