Ukraine: Child casualties rise in deadly summer with over 540 children killed in 18 months of war
KYIV, 23 August 2023 - Child casualties in Ukraine increased by more than 7% between May to August compared to the previous four months as air and drone attacks tripled, with no end to the danger faced by children after 18 months of war, Save the Children said today.
Since May 2023, a total of 148 children have been killed or injured in Ukraine, bringing the number of child casualties since the escalation of war on 24 Feb last year to more than 1,700, according to UN data. This includes 545 deaths, with 24 children killed this summer.
The month of June was the deadliest so far this year for children with 11 children killed and 43 more injured. According to verified UN data,1 there was an increase in all civilian casualties in Ukraine in between 1 May and 13 August with July recording the highest number of total civilian casualties in 2023 at 865.
Conflict analytics reports showed that between Jan 1- April 30 there were 459 air and drone strikes. This rose to 1,432 between 1 May and 4 August, with about 95% of these attacks in populated areas.
In one such attack on the morning of 31 July, a missile hit an apartment block in Kryvyi Rih, Southern Dnipro, destroying five storeys of a high-rise building. A 10-year-old girl and her mother were killed in the incident, with more than 80 further reported casualties, including seven injured children.
Lyudmyla’s* apartment was one of more than 250 homes damaged in the neighbourhood. All the windows of her family’s home were blown out by the explosion and the noise woke up her 18-year-old grandson.
“He was shocked, and rushed outside straight from his bed once he heard the explosion. He could not even change his clothes. He later came back to grab documents and that is when another explosion occurred. He was terrified by such a loud noise,” said Lyudmyla*, 65.
“My two other grandchildren – aged 11 and 13 – were staying with their mother at a relative’s house. They were just 300 metres away from the explosion. The windows and doors were also blown out at that apartment. Everyone was scared.”
On 11 August, an 8-year-old boy was killed in Kolomyia, western Ukraine, after a missile struck the back garden of his family home. A family of four was killed by shelling in Kherson region two days later, including a 12-year-old boy and a baby girl just 23 days old. Just last week on 19 August, a six-year-old girl was among the seven people killed and 180 injured in an attack in the northern city of Chernihiv.
Amjad Yamin, Save the Children’s Advocacy Director in Ukraine, said:
“Ukraine is 18 months into full-scale war, and there seems to be no reprieve from the perilous circumstances endured by children and families. We have witnessed numerous attacks on populated areas that took the lives of children and their parents, left hundreds of people injured or severely distressed, and damaged or destroyed homes, plunging thousands of families into uncertainty.
“Since last February, more than 1,700 children have been killed or injured due to unrelenting hostilities. The vast majority of those casualties are attributed to missiles and drones being fired at residential areas. This serves as a grim reminder that explosive weapons should not be used anywhere near populated areas, such as towns and villages.”
Save the Children is calling on all sides to adhere to obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and ensure that civilians and civilian objects, especially those used by children such as homes, schools, and hospitals, are protected from attack.
Children are seven times more likely than adults to die from blast injuries caused by explosive weapons, shockwaves, and fragments. Surviving children not only endure physical trauma and disability but also suffer from the acute stress of growing up in a conflict zone.
Save the Children partners with Imperial College London and various medical specialists, humanitarians, and academics in the Paediatric Blast Injury Partnership to save children's lives and support their recovery. Conflict in Ukraine since 2014 has put 21.3 million people, including 19% children, at risk of mines and unexploded ordnance.**
Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, delivering humanitarian aid to children and their families affected by hostilities. It is also supporting refugee families across Europe and helping children to access education and other critical services.
*Names are changed to protect identity.
**According to the Mine Action Area of Responsibility.
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