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Ukraine: At least three children killed as conflict escalates

KYIV, 25 February - The deaths of three children reported in the conflict in Ukraine show that any war is a war against children, with fears that more innocent young lives will be lost if the fighting does not stop immediately, Save the Children said on Friday.

Two teachers were also reported killed when a missile struck a school in Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine as Russia military operations escalated, with explosions reported across major cities.

A 17-year-old boy was killed in an attack on the village of Semikhatky in the southern Kherson region, and two other children were killed in shelling in eastern Ukraine, one in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Region, and the other in Mariupol, Donetsk region.

At least 120 people have been killed in the escalating violence, according to media reports, with the UN reporting at least 25 civilian deaths and more than 100 injuries in the past 24 hours. It is highly likely that child casualties and damage to essential services like schools and hospitals will increase if fighting continues, especially in densely populated areas.

Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children’s Eastern Europe Director, said:

“We have already seen three young lives needlessly lost and we fear for all of the children of Ukraine as the situation rapidly deteriorates. Children are bearing the brunt of this crisis, and are now paying for a war not of their making with their lives.

“There is no safe place in Ukraine and the situation is changing by the hour. All of the 7.5 million children in Ukraine are in grave danger of physical harm, severe emotional distress, and displacement.

“Children have already lived through eight years of conflict, enduring violence, shelling, and being displaced from their homes. Enough is enough. Any war is a war against children. Every effort must be made to urgently find a diplomatic solution and protect children from harm.” 

“Three children is three too many,” added James Denselow, Head of Conflict and Humanitarian Team at Save the Children UK.

"We call on the UK government to ensure protection of children is put at the top of the agenda in addressing this crisis, including offering safe refuge for fleeing families and standing ready to scale up urgent humanitarian funding.”

Save the Children is calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, as this is the only way to protect children from violence and other violations of their rights.

While fighting is ongoing, constant care must be taken to spare civilians and civilian objects, including schools and hospitals, which are protected under International Humanitarian Law. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas risks severe harm to civilians, with unique risks to children, and should be avoided. 

Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, delivering essential humanitarian aid to children and their families. This includes supporting their access to education, providing psychosocial support, distributing winter kits and hygiene kits, and providing cash grants to families so they can meet basic needs such as food, rent and medicines, or so they can invest in starting new businesses. 

To donate to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund, please visit: https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/how-you-can-help/emergencies/support-our-emergency-fund


 Notes to Editors:


For further enquiries please contact:

Our media out of hours (BST) contact is media@savethechildren.org.uk / +44(0)7831 650409

We have Irina Saghoyan and James Denselow available as a spokesperson.