Kyiv, 23 February 2022: Children will bear the brunt of a significant escalation in fighting in Ukraine, with injuries and deaths likely in the worst-case scenario, says Save the Children calling for an immediate cessation to hostilities.
Already at least 100,000 people including at least 40,000 children have been displaced from Eastern Ukraine in recent days, joining an estimated 854,000 people already displaced across Ukraine since the start of the conflict in 2014. Already over eight years at least 3,106 civilians, including more than 150 children, have been killed, and an estimated 7,000 have been injured.
Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children's Eastern Europe Director, said:
“We are standing at the precipice of a truly catastrophic war, and every effort must be made to pull us back. Children are terrified – they wonder if their homes will be shelled, their friends hurt, their security and sense of normalcy lost. And parents are terrified – they are going to sleep at night and wondering whether they’ll be hauling their children on buses and trains tomorrow, looking for safety.
“This is an appalling situation. But more fighting isn’t inevitable. Leaders must step up, in the interests of the region’s most vulnerable – its children.
“Save the Children joins children and parents across Ukraine to call on all actors to cease hostilities and find a peaceful solution. It is still possible to de-escalate this crisis. The international community should increase and support diplomatic efforts as though their own lives depended on it. The lives of children in Ukraine hang in the balance. Only diplomacy and dialogue will lead to an outcome that protects children’s lives and rights.”
Any new mass movement of children will put them in grave danger of hunger, cold and illness. With Eastern Ukraine one of the most mine-contaminated regions in the world, children on the move will be at risk of losing limbs from landmines and explosive devices. Almost 70% of civilian casualties since the July 2020 ceasefire have been caused by landmines and explosive devices.
Save the Children is urgently calling on all parties to the conflict in Ukraine to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities, as the only way to protect children and their families from further violence and other violations of their rights.
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.
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