Two children killed in Ukraine war each day: UNICEF

Ten-year-old Yaroslav at a children’s hospital in Boyarka after undergoing surgery to remove his appendix. He survived a missile attack that occurred near Boyarka. (Credit: UNICEF/UN0642135/Filippov)

The war in Ukraine is "shattering the lives of millions of children", according to the UN agency.

An average of two children have been killed and more than four have been injured in Ukraine every day since Russia launched its invasion late February, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  That’s at least 262 children killed and 415 injured in three months of fighting.

Attacks and explosive weapons in urban areas are the first responsible for children dying across Ukraine over the past three months, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

The figures, which are based on reports verified by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), come on 1 June on the International Day for Protection of Children.

“Instead of celebrating the occasion, we are solemnly approaching June 3 – the 100th day of a war that has shattered the lives of millions of children,” said UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell in a statement.

“Without an urgent ceasefire and negotiated peace, children will continue to suffer – and fallout from the war will impact vulnerable children around the world.”

UNICEF estimates that 5.2 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, including three million inside Ukraine and 2.2 million in refugee-hosting countries. Two in three children have been forced to leave their homes due to the fighting, according to the agency.

Key infrastructure such as hospitals and schools have been bombed, including some 256 health facilities and one in six UNICEF-supported “safe schools” in the eastern Ukraine, the agency said.

The war has also exposed displaced children to a number of risks such as being separated from their families, abuse, trafficking and sexual exploitation, the agency stressed. The traumatic events that they have lived through have also left their mark.

“These children urgently need safety, stability, child protection services, and psychosocial support – especially those who are unaccompanied or have been separated from their families,” the statement read.

“More than anything, they need peace.”