Urgent action is needed to prevent a dangerous military escalation in Ukraine which could threaten thousands of children’s lives, Save the Children warned today.
Children in Eastern Ukraine have grown up in conflict for the past eight years, enduring violence, shelling, and being displaced from their homes. Even before this latest escalation of tensions, 2.9 million people, including over 400,000 children, already required humanitarian assistance.
Despite a series of ceasefire agreements signed between September 2015 and July 2020, fighting has continued, preventing thousands of families from returning home and limiting children’s access to education, healthcare and other basic services. In recent weeks, there has been a marked increase in risks to civilian lives as more heavy weapons are moved across the contact lines.
Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children’s Eastern Europe Director, said:
“With almost 100,000 troops massed at the border of Ukraine, we stand at the precipice of a heightened conflict that could affect millions of children. If fighting begins - regardless of who fires the first shot - the conflict could spiral out of control, with devastating consequences for families.
“Many children have already witnessed or experienced acts of violence over eight years of conflict. Some children are showing signs of significant distress or have trouble sleeping, and for others, any loud noise or a man with a weapon reminds them of the violence they have experienced or have fled.
“Save the Children is gravely concerned for children who might be caught in the middle of this armed conflict, forced from their homes in sub-zero temperatures, and exposed to injury, hunger and cold. Every effort should be made to find a diplomatic solution and avert a catastrophic war. Children must be protected from harm at all times.”
Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, including in the conflict-impacted regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. We are delivering essential humanitarian aid to children and their families. We are distributing winter kits and hygiene kits, 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. Our specialist teams are also providing children with access to safe, inclusive, quality education and are working with schools and community centres to help children overcome the mental and psychological impacts of their experiences of conflict and violence, and increase their resilience and ability to cope with stresses in their daily lives.
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