Children and young people are on the frontline of crisis in Ukraine
In the weeks since Russia launched an invasion in Ukraine, 3.6 million people have fled into neighbouring countries and 6.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes because of the armed conflict.
Since the fighting began, more than 3,000 Ukrainian civilians have lost their lives – including children. These figures are likely underrepresented and will continue to rise.
While ChildFund Alliance’s member organisation, ChildFund Deutschland, has been working in Ukraine since 2004, both ChildFund Deutschland and fellow alliance member, WeWorld, are acting quickly to provide emergency services to children and their families.
Since the outbreak of violence, ChildFund has supported five partner organisations in Ukraine to deliver relief activities. These funds support the distribution of food, medicine and basic household items that can be sent to families in need.
Working with local organisations across Ukraine, ChildFund has set up two distribution centres in the Cherkasy and Rivne regions to share vital food, hygiene, and medical supplies.
“ChildFund Australia is working alongside WeWorld, ChildFund Deutschland and other aid organisations to provide food, psychosocial support, education, and hygiene essentials, with particular attention given to children and babies who need baby food, formula and nappies,” said Margaret Sheehan, ChildFund Australia CEO.
However, many supplies are becoming scarce, especially medical supplies. The ongoing fighting is making it more difficult to buy food in the cities and food must often be transported long distances which is dangerous to do in areas where there is active fighting.
Because of the conflict and dwindling supplies, many Ukrainians continue to flee their homes. In Moldova, 89% of Ukrainian refugees are women and children. Moldova is a small country with just over four million people living there. They have welcomed 380,000 Ukrainian refugees since the crisis started and more arrive every day.
ChildFund has set up four emergency accommodation centres for refugee families. On average every family spends four weeks living in temporary accommodation. Over the next few months, they expect to support 2,800 families fleeing conflict – including over 1,000 children.
“We had to leave our apartment near Kyiv. We could only bring the most essential things and didn’t have time to take any belongings that mean so much to us. This is very sad,” said Vitalya, mother to one year old Avdey.
With their world in turmoil, children need a safe space. ChildFund is working with a mobile team to provide psychological first aid and counselling services and creating dedicated child-friendly spaces where children can have a safe space to gather and continue to access an education.
The situation in Ukraine is evolving and changing every day, and every day children and young people are on the frontlines of violence. As we publish this story, there are allegations of war crimes in Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel near Kyiv. Throughout the conflict there have been ongoing reports of grave violations of children’s rights. We echo the UN’s call that it is essential for all reports of violence against civilians to be independently verified.