Ukraine-Russia War News: Live Updates and Video Coverage
One million children have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks of war, UNICEF spokesman James Elder said on Tuesday, calling it a “dark historic first”.
Since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, two million people have fled Ukraine, according to the UN, more than those who left Syria in the first three years of the civil war.
“We haven’t seen a refugee crisis of this magnitude and magnitude since World War II,” Elder said. “And it’s a children’s crisis.”
About one in seven Ukrainian children has already left the country. At least 29 were killed, by shelling or mortar shells, in the street as they tried to flee, a figure which aid organizations say is almost certainly an underestimate. Since the start of the conflict, UNICEF estimates that 4,000 babies have been born in Ukraine “including dozens in makeshift maternities and underground shelters”, the agency said in a statement to The New York Times.
“Despite the best efforts of doctors and midwives, they are setting up intensive care units or doctor’s surgeries in basements and bunkers – in no way can it be as safe as where a child should be born,” Elder said.
In some regions, families live without electricity or water, with children exposed to cold, disease, hunger and thirst. Families in Mariupol said some children were drinking water from water heaters, Elder said.
Catherine M. Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, called the situation of children in Ukraine “a moral outrage” and said countless of them were traumatized.
In a bunker near her home in Kharkiv, 5-year-old Eva Zozulia learned to distinguish the sound of Ukrainian and Russian artillery before she and part of her family fled the city. The first produced only loud “booms” but when the Russians struck, the whole building shook.
“It was scary,” Eva said in a phone call from the train station in the western city of Lviv, where she had spent the night before, sleeping in a restaurant with her mother and brother. elder.
Many fleeing children are unaccompanied, according to a UN statement. Their parents or family members remained in Ukraine, or were killed, Mr Elder said, adding that he had met a mother who was traveling with her three children and three of her sister’s children, with whom she had lost the contact.
About 100,000 children, half of whom are disabled, live in institutions and boarding schools at risk, as schools, orphanages, homes and hospitals have all been attacked, the UN said.
Reverend Vyacheslav Grynevych, executive director of Caritas-Spes, a Ukrainian Latin Catholic charity, said the group hosted 200 children with their mothers at a center in Yablunytsia ski resort in western Ukraine. .
Reverend Grynevych said in a phone call from Yablunytsia that while many orphans had left Ukraine, his organization was still trying to coordinate the evacuation of many of them who are still in bomb shelters in across the country, sometimes alone.
The children also showed great resilience, whether singing in bomb shelters or undertaking journeys alone to join relatives abroad. Vardkes Arzumanyan, a restaurateur who distributed meals at Lviv train station, said he saw a child tearing up the piece of cardboard he was sitting on, offering some to an unknown person.
Most Ukrainian refugees in other countries are women and children, as men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave. But for some mothers, their 18-year-old sons are still children.
Eva Zozulia’s brother, Kyryll, a high school student, turned 18 on March 1, a day before the family fled Kharkiv.
“He’s not prepared,” said Irene Zozulia, Eva and Kyryll’s mother. “The only way he could help is to go in front of a Russian soldier and say ‘kill me’.”