STORY: Ukraine war one year – UNICEF, UNHCR, IFRC
TRT: 2:43 mins
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 24 February 2023 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Children in Ukraine have endured violence, trauma, loss, destruction and displacement since the Russian full-scale invasion in February 2022, leaving 4.1 million children in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country, UN humanitarians said on Friday.
“We have data that 487 children have been killed and 954 injured inside Ukraine and those are verified estimates alongside OHCHR (the UN human rights office and its monitoring mission in Ukraine), and the use of explosive weapons causing those child casualties,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, speaking to the media at the United Nations in Geneva.
Schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure on which children depend continue to be damaged or destroyed. UNICEF estimates that more than 800 health facilities were shelled in the last year, while an estimated 1.5 million children have suffered severe mental health trauma, having experienced the war.
“We see health facilities damaged or destroyed by shelling,” said Ms. Khan. “This has serious repercussions on the ability to provide basic services to children inside Ukraine. The mental health disorders for children who have witnessed family members killed and injured, losing friends, losing neighbours”.
Families have been separated and lives torn apart, UN humanitarians have warned, as fighting continues in the east and south of Ukraine. As part of the response, UNICEF has helped 1.4 million children with formal and informal education. The UN agency has also provided 224,000 households with multi-purpose cash assistance.
“We have focused very much on cash assistance to families inside Ukraine,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “The figure is several hundred million(s) of dollars in cash assistance, and we have targeted by focusing on children and families with large numbers of dependents and children with a disability.”
Children who have been separated from their parents are also at higher risk of abuse, exploitation and trafficking as they flee violence, UNICEF warned. It estimates that two million Ukrainian children have crossed into neighbouring countries as refugees and another 2.5 million are displaced inside the country.
On the overall number of displacements caused by the war in Ukraine, Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that “we are looking unfortunately at a situation where there are 13 million people who have been uprooted from their homes and among those there are eight million refugees who fled across Europe, and more than five million people who are internally displaced within the country”.
Providing mental health to the Ukrainian population is also one of the priorities of UN partner, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“One of the top issues that we are seeing and need to highlight are the psychological wounds that are not only adding another cruel layer of pain to people already struggling to cope, the anguish and the torment of the last year has hit people very hard, and this continues,” said Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe. She added that “people are right now living in freezing temperatures without power, heat and in some cases without water due to the damages of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure”.
For those Ukrainians who have left the country and are trying to settle elsewhere, they are burdened with administrative hurdles in addition to their suffering from the war. “Some are now facing what we can call a ‘red tape nightmare’ of providing qualifications – and of proving qualifications - and training in order to be able to find and get work”, said IFRC’s Europe Director. “Accreditations are needed, legal attestations of documents and in some cases, this is super complex and costly for people who are dealing with many other issues at the same time.”