Nearly 2,000 children killed in ongoing Ukraine-Russia war: UNICEF

UNICEF says nearly 2,000 children in Ukraine have lost their lives amidst ongoing and escalating war.
A young boy in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, sits in front of a sign that reads “Danger of Mines”.  Photo Courtesy:  UNICEF/Olena Hrom

Nearly 2,000 children in Ukraine have lost their lives amidst ongoing and escalating war,  the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday, citing UN-verified data.

UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office and its Regional Director, Regina De Dominicis, released a joint statement saying, “At least 1,993 children in Ukraine have been killed or injured since the escalation of war more than two years ago, an average of two child casualties each day.”

The statement said this tally of children’s deaths is likely to be higher.

The attacks in Ukraine have harmfully affected the mental health and well-being of children, with half of teenagers reporting trouble sleeping, and one in five reporting having intrusive thoughts and flashbacks.

“As we see in all wars, the reckless decisions and actions of adults are costing children their lives, safety and futures,” the statement said.

Recent killings

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Monday that recent waves of attacks in the Kharkiv region have killed civilians and several children.

Due to the quickly deteriorating security situation, local authorities, with support from the UN and aid organisations, have evacuated nearly 6,000 people from the border area with Russia.

Disrupted education

June will mark four years of disrupted education in Ukraine, UNICEF said.

“Nearly half of children enrolled in school in Ukraine are missing out on in-person schooling, with almost one million children across the country not able to access any in-person learning at all due to insecurity.”

UNICEF has been working across Ukraine to restore schools and shelters while providing online learning support to children and offering at-home learning kits.  

In 2023 alone, the UN organisation was able to aid “1.3 million children with formal and non-formal learning opportunities and 2.5 million children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support services”.

Ceasefire needed

UNICEF is steadily calling for a prompt ceasefire in Ukraine and children’s protection.

This, they said, would include stopping the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and “attacks on civilian facilities and infrastructure which disproportionally harm children”.

The organisation says children in Ukraine need more safety, stability, access to learning and child protection services and support.  

“More than anything, Ukraine’s children need peace,” the statement concluded.

Additional funding

UNICEF said its 2024 humanitarian and recovery programmes need an additional USD 250 million to guarantee critical support for children and families in Ukraine.