We’ve all been shocked by the terrible scenes of war in Ukraine.
But across the world, millions more children are in desperate danger right now.
From Afghanistan to Yemen, children are battling to survive war, hunger and the climate crisis.
Here’s an update on six devastating crises affecting children today – and how we’re responding through our teams and local partners.
“I’ve never seen anything like the desperate situation we have here. We treat frighteningly ill children every day who haven’t eaten anything except bread for months.” Chris Nyamandi, our Country Director in Afghanistan
One in three families in Afghanistan have lost their entire income since September. With the economy in freefall, hunger is rife.
“There is no shortage of food here - the markets are full,” says Chris. “Yet children are starving to death because their parents can’t afford to pay for food.”
“This could and should have been prevented. But it’s not too late to prevent further tragedy if we act now.”
In the last six months, our team in Afghanistan has reached more than 400,000 children. Save the Children is providing healthcare, nutrition and warm clothes. We’re giving families cash for food and other essentials. And we’re getting home learning kits to girls.
After 11 years of conflict, Syria’s children bear the scars of war.
Three-quarters of the population have had to flee their homes. In what used to be a middle-income country, almost 60% of people now don’t have enough to eat. Many children are out of school and denied the chance to learn.
Save the Children is working with local organisations to support schools and health clinics so children can learn, develop and stay healthy.
We run safe spaces where children can play, learn and just be children again. And we provide critical psychosocial support to help children come to terms with traumatic experiences and start to recover.
The war in Ukraine has left up to 6 million children are in imminent danger. Hundreds of schools and scores of hospitals have been destroyed or damaged,
“School should be a safe haven for children, not a place of fear, injury or death,” says Pete Walsh, our Country Director in Ukraine. “The streets of Ukraine are being used as a battlefield.”
“We must protect children in Ukraine at all costs.”
Save the Children has worked in eastern Ukraine since 2014. Now we’re gearing up our response reach 3.5 million children in their families in danger across the region.
“I assumed the sniper would spare me when he saw I was only picking up the ball. He doesn’t usually shoot at us, he rarely does, but he did this time. He shot my leg.” Isaac*, 14, Yemen
Our Country Director in Yemen, Rama Hansraj, has seen the devastating impact of the 7-year war here on Isaac – and on a whole generation of children.
“Children have been attacked while playing football, behind their desks in schools, on their beds in hospitals, at their homes, and in the marketplace,” says Rama.
“They are being killed by the thousands, maimed, displaced, and traumatised to the extent most of them now live with constant fear and anxiety.”
As one of the biggest aid organisations working in Yemen, we’re distributing food and supporting health clinics and schools. And we run safe spaces where children can play, learn and make friends.
Here in the UK, we’re calling on our government to step up and push for global action on Yemen.
“There’s so much hunger and so much need. The ultimate culprit is climate change.” Mohamud Mohamed, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia
A devastating drought in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya is putting millions of children at extreme risk.
In Somalia, 70% of the population does not have enough to eat. Parts of Kenya are facing acute water shortages and hunger. In Ethiopia’s Somali region, more than half of the livestock have died.
For generations, communities here have lived through water shortages and developed coping strategies. But this drought is different.
“Somalia has always had droughts, and Somalis have always known how to deal with them – they struggle, they lose livestock, they count their losses, and then they bounce back,” says our Country Director Mohamud Mohamed.
“But now, the gaps between droughts are shrinking. It’s a killer cycle and it’s robbing Somali children of their future.”
In Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, our teams are getting lifesaving support to families facing drought, hunger and loss of livelihood. We’re getting food, water and cash to families, and providing healthcare and nutrition.
A child born today is likely to experience on average twice as many wildfires, nearly three times as many river floods, and almost seven times more heatwaves in their lifetime than their grandparents.
In countries on the frontline of the climate crisis – including the devastating food crisis in East Africa highlighted above – children are battling to survive.
As droughts and flooding destroy crops, livestock and livelihoods, children are missing out on the food they need to stay healthy. Struggling families can’t afford to send their children to school or pay for healthcare. Many children have to work to support their families. Girls are at bigger risk of child marriage.
But from London to Lagos, Cape Town to Colombo, children are fighting back. Through school strikes, youth summits and on social media they are leading the charge against the climate crisis. We’re supporting children to hold their governments to account on climate commitments.
And in countries already badly affected by the impact of the crisis, we’re responding through our programmes by:
- delivering water to communities battling drought
- providing cash transfers to families who have lost their livelihoods because of drought, floods and other climate disasters
- setting up early warning systems to prepare for crises ahead of time.
“Every time [a flower] falls, it springs up again.” Yara*, 17, Syrian refugee
Will you help spread a message of hope and solidarity to children caught up in conflicts and crises around the world?
Share a Flower for Children on your social media. It’s a simple act we can all do – children and adults alike. By sharing a flower, you can send a simple, powerful message of solidarity to children living through war and crisis.
Flowers can express our feelings when words fail. Feelings of love, grief and new beginnings.
In our safe spaces for children in conflict and emergency settings – where children get the chance to play, learn, feel safe and regain a sense of normality – children often draw, paint and photograph flowers as symbols of hope and peace.
Take a photo of your favourite flower. Draw one yourself. Or ask your children to draw a flower for a child in conflict.
Then share it on your social media channels with your friends and family.
Use the hashtags #StopTheWaronChildren and #FlowersForChildren so you are part of the global show of solidarity.
Image: Alix*, 5, from Venezuela, plays with a flower near her family's apartment in Lima, Peru.