An atypical Children’s Day in war-torn Ukraine
Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jun 1 (EFE).- Ukraine marked on Wednesday the International Day for the Protection of Children, but hardly no children were seen celebrating in the war-torn country that has been under Russian aggression for nearly 100 days.
At least two children have been killed everyday since the Russian invasion began on February 24, according to the United Nations. Most of the victims were killed in attacks using explosive weapons in populated areas, the UN said.
“Russia is stealing the childhood of our children, it wants to destroy our future,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
At least 262 children have been killed and 415 injured in attacks while 5.2 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the war in Ukraine, according to UNICEF.
Yuri, 4, is the only child playing in a playground in the outskirts of Kharkiv, one of the hardest-hit cities.
“A lot of children went to other countries, now some families have come back, also with children, but they don’t leave their homes, they are afraid. Sometimes you see some on the street, but it’s rare,” Yuri’s mother, Tetyana, tells Efe.
As Yuri is playing with the swings, a loud explosion is heard.
“The child sometimes gets scared, me too, but we got used to it. He is no longer as scared as he was at the beginning of the war,” Tetyana says.
Yuri, whose father is in Germany, has not gone to kindergarten since the war began. He spends his days at home with his cousin, who is almost his age. It is safer this way because if they go outside, they have to play with rubble and dirt and the area is still dangerous, Tetyana says.
“Civilian infrastructure on which children depend continues to be damaged or destroyed,” the UN said, adding that hundreds of schools across the country have also been damaged.
The UN added the situation for children in southern and eastern Ukraine, where fighting continues, was “increasingly desperate”.
“These children urgently need safety, stability, child protection services, and psychosocial support – especially those who are unaccompanied or have been separated from their families. More than anything, they need peace,” UNICEF urged. EFE