Children are innocent victims of war. Millions of Ukrainian children are in danger

At least two million Ukrainian children had to leave their homeland. More than 1.1 million of them are located in Poland and hundreds of thousands more in Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Another 2.5 million refugee children, who are internally displaced, are then in Ukraine. Over a hundred deaths and injuries of children as a result of war have been officially documented, but the actual numbers will be orders of magnitude higher. This is according to UNICEF statistics.

“Every war is a war on children,” said Eglantyne Jebb, a British philanthropist and founder of Save the Children in 1919, begins the editorial in the scientific journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, which draws attention to the fact that the ongoing war in Ukraine is literally devastating the rights and health of 7.5 million children in the country.

“Russia’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians have involved the use of cluster munitions (bombings – bombs containing large numbers of small bombs that do not specifically target, but cover a large area) in populated areas, the bombing of schools, orphanages and hospitals,” reads the text. noted. As of April 2, the World Health Organization has officially confirmed 82 attacks on paramedics and medical facilities, as a result of which 72 people have already died. Facilities that care for pediatric patients, including a maternity hospital and a children’s hospital, have also become targets. “The Donetsk Regional Theater in Mariupol, used as a civilian air-raid shelter, was destroyed despite the word ‘children’ written in Russian on both sides of the building. The Ukrainian government says more than 500 educational facilities were damaged,” the text lists other chilling facts.

More than half of Ukraine’s population under the age of 18 had to leave their homes

According to statistics from the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 2 million children have already had to leave Ukraine. Overall, children make up half of all refugees. Poland adopted the most children, a total of 1.1 million. Hundreds of thousands more children are heading to Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. “The situation in Ukraine is changing rapidly. As the number of children fleeing their homes continues to rise, we must keep in mind that each of them needs protection, education, safety and support” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

According to the organization’s estimates, more than 2.5 million Ukrainian children have been internally displaced and have had to leave their homes but are still in Ukraine. In fact, this means that more than half of Ukrainian children and adolescents under the age of 18 are now away from home. Many of these children then experience a painful separation from their loved ones, especially fathers, and have very limited information about their future. UNHCR has officially confirmed over 100 children killed and over 100 injured during the war. However, the actual number of dead and injured children will be an order of magnitude higher. According to UNICEF and UNHCR, children and adolescents who have had to leave their homes are at risk of being trafficked and exploited.

“In addition to the imminent danger and threat to life, the war in Ukraine leads children to live in fear and insecurity, with limited access to clean water, food, safe shelter and The health system, already strained after two years of the covid-19 pandemic, faces a shortage of basic supplies, attacks on health workers, as well as their forced displacement and damage to infrastructure, many children miss routine immunizations, and children with chronic conditions are at risk of discontinuing treatment,” says Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Children are the most vulnerable during the fire

The chilling effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine led more than 300 British doctors specializing in pediatric emergency medicine to write an open letter published in the Lancet journal Child & Adolescent Health: Psychological experiences of children in this country. »

“Children are particularly vulnerable to attacks from explosive weapons used by artillery or the air force. Children are more likely than adults to have more severe gunshot wounds. They disproportionately need more medical care and also die more often from their injuries.If children survive injuries from explosive weapons, they often face not only physical trauma and subsequent disability, but also acute stress. growing up in a war zone. If left untreated, children face lifelong physical and mental health problems,” British doctors warn.

Childhood trauma adds up and affects a lifetime

More than 100,000 Ukrainian children live in institutions, about half of whom are children with one type or combination of disabilities. These children are particularly vulnerable. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) describes that these children are literally hiding where they can – in churches, for example, or have been moved abroad. This means that they have entered an environment that speaks a language they do not understand. Even before the war, 1.4% of children placed in institutions lived in Ukraine.

“Every child’s chances in life depend on the invisible weighing pans. On the one hand, there are negative life experiences such as abuse and violence. There is compelling evidence that this experience increases the risk of other harmful consequences in the lives of individuals, including heart disease, cancer, imprisonment, HIV infection, mental health problems and premature death.On the other hand, there are protective factors that promote a child’s future success and build resilience in the face of adversity. Perhaps the most important of these is a warm relationship with parents or a caring person,” says the BMJ, noting that the parenthood suffers during war.Families are often violently torn apart and face extreme challenges in chaos and distress.These adverse experiences are then often passed on from generation to generation. t more important to provide families and children with adequate support.

Ludmila Hamplova

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