London, Mar 3 (EFE).- At least 400,000 children fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine are at risk of hunger, illness, trafficking and abuse, non-profit organization Save The Children warned on Thursday.
Around 40% of people crossing the border into Romania, Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and Lithuania are children, the charity said.
“We know that when children are on the move, they are at heightened risk of trafficking, abuse including sexual violence and serious psychological distress,” Save the Children’s Eastern Europe director, Irina Saghoyan, said in a statement.
One million people have fled Ukraine in just one week since Russia launched its invasion, according to the United Nations, which said it was Europe’s “largest refugee crisis this century.”
The mass exodus has led to long queues at border checkpoints forcing refugees to withstand freezing temperatures for hours.
“It is also unconscionable that some children and their families are forced to be outside with no shelter in such freezing temperatures. We are incredibly worried about the risks of illnesses like hypothermia,” Saghoyan said.
Children’s mental health is equally at risk as their physical health.
“Their homes, schools and communities have been destroyed, they have been separated from family and friends – their entire lives and everything they hold dear have been ripped from them in the space of a week,” Saghoyan warned.
“For now, it is vital that all these children entering neighboring countries are protected, and have access to life-saving food, clean water, shelter and mental health support.” EFE