As the Ukraine conflict reaches its one-month mark, international aid agency World Vision warns that children are bearing the brunt, as they are killed, forced to flee their homes and are at high risk of trafficking and abuse. World Vision also underlined that it condemns any violence targeting civilians, homes, schools and health facilities, and called on all parties to the conflict to adhere to their responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law and International Law.
The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has estimated child fatalities to be 75 and 99 children injured, however it also added that “actual figures are considerably higher” due to the delays in getting information from areas of “intense hostilities.” This includes areas such as Mariupol, Volnovakha (Donetsk region), Izium (Kharkiv region), Sievierodonetsk and Rubizhne (Luhansk region), and Trostianets (Sumy region), where there are reports of “numerous civilian casualties.”
The reports of child fatalities come as Ukrainian government officials this week claimed 1,500 residential buildings, 202 schools and 34 hospitals had been shelled across the country. Media outlets also reported that residential buildings on the outskirts of Odesa had been subjected to shelling.
“The death of any child is a tragedy, but the death of at least 75 children in Ukraine after just one month of fighting is devastating,” said Michael Messenger, President and CEO, World Vision Canada, who recently met with and served refugees at the border of Ukraine and Romania. “We have also witnessed an overwhelming number of displaced children and young people, some of them deeply traumatized, desperately hungry and profoundly worried about their parents and relatives still in Ukraine. I am also extremely worried about children who are travelling alone and who are at risk of sexual abuse or trafficking. This crisis is bad enough without another crisis emerging from within it.”
As World Vision continues to prepare Child Friendly Spaces to provide safe places for children fleeing the conflict, the agency has expressed dire concerns that an unprecedented one in five Ukrainian children has become a refugee within the space of one month. Based on latest estimates, 1.5 million children out of a total population of 7.5 million Ukrainian children had crossed international borders to seek safety, or 20 percent, or one in five, has become a refugee since the conflict began on Feb. 24.
World Vision joins the calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Civilians must be able to safely evacuate if they wish to, and without discrimination. Humanitarian agencies must be able to access all those in need wherever they are and deliver needed assistance.
About World Vision
World Vision is a relief, development and advocacy organization working to create lasting change in the lives of children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by Christian values, World Vision is dedicated to working with the world’s most vulnerable people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, visit worldvision.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.