Geneva, Mar 21 (EFE).- With a quarter of the Ukrainian population fleeing their homes, schools and hospitals under attack and up to 13 million people trapped in conflict zones, there are no safe places in Ukraine, humanitarian organizations warned Monday.
Half of the nearly 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees that have fled the war since Russia began its invasion last month are children.
“There are no safe places left in the country now,” CEO of British NGO Save the Children, Inger Ashing, said in a conference organized by the World Economic Forum.
Catherine Russell, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), echoed that sentiment.
“Nothing is safe from attack,” she said.
“They are traveling with next to nothing (…) the children have their little backpacks on, some of them only have the clothes they managed to grab before they left (…) they talked about being pulled out of school and missing their dads.
“The children have been traumatized already and we know that that is just going to continue,” Russel said.
At least 460 schools have been attacked during the invasion so far, out of which over 60 have been completely destroyed, according to Ashing, who said the situation was “alarming.”
“Schools should be a safe haven for children, not a place of fear, injury and death,” she said.
Leaders of humanitarian agencies urged the international community to step up efforts to mitigate the catastrophe, which is mounting pressure on neighboring countries such as Poland.
“The needs for support and services are immense,” UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly Clements, said.
Clements said that even though most of the refugees want to stay close to the border with Ukraine, the international community must come up with a long term and dignified humanitarian response.
“Sustained support is absolutely fundamental,” she said. EFE