How the lives of Ukrainian children are being ripped apart by Russian missiles
The war in Ukraine is having a profound impact on children and their families as the continued use of explosive weapons in populated areas causes high levels of death, suffering and riots.
According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 408 children have been killed and 750 injured since February 24 – as these are only verified numbers, the true number is likely to be far higher. Most recorded civilian casualties were caused by long-range explosive weapons, including heavy artillery fire, multiple-launch missile systems, missiles and airstrikes.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Education says 2,601 educational institutions, including schools, universities and other institutions, were damaged and 309 destroyed.
UNICEF spokesman Joe English said: “Even for those who escaped the physical damage of the shelling, the losses are deep and enduring: psychosocial trauma with long-lasting effects, the loss of education, the loss of the hospitals and medical centers that provide critical care , and the feeling of home – a place where you can grow up happy and healthy.”
The Explosive Weapons In Populated Areas (EWIPA) conference was held at Dublin Castle on Friday to adopt a political declaration to strengthen the protection of civilians from the humanitarian consequences of shelling populated areas. Unicef continues to call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and protection of all children from harm, and urges states to sign EWIPA’s political declaration.
These are just a few of the countless stories of children in Ukraine whose world was turned upside down by the war with Russia and the struggle they face to get their lives back on track.
The school of 16-year-old Daria Kechenovska in Zhytomyr was completely destroyed by a rocket attack on the morning of March 4. She had studied here for the last 11 years. She says: “I want to become a soldier to defend my country.”
Darya Nikolayenko is another student whose school in Chernihiv was destroyed by shelling. “War is the worst thing that can happen to mankind,” says Darya. “My school was my second home. When I saw what happened to it, I felt like I would never forgive it.”
Mykhailo Misha’s home was destroyed during a siege of the city of Chernihiv in February. There were 30 houses on his street, but because of the war only eight are habitable.
As the days and nights grow colder, Mischa and his mother Olena work to clear debris and cover open areas with plastic to protect themselves from the elements.
“My school was destroyed because of the war; So now I have to go to a new school,” says Mykhailo. “I dream of going back to my old school because I have friends and teachers. My house is also destroyed. I struggle with online education because I can’t see my friends.”
Explosive weapons used in the Chernihiv attacks claimed civilian lives, including children, and caused significant damage to essential infrastructure and services.
Children in the besieged city prepare for the coming winter season, raising significant concerns for their survival and well-being as families are unable to heat their homes due to damage and destruction, lack of access to adequate shelter and a general lack of access to electricity or fuel.
Mykhailo Baev, 12, required medical treatment after a rocket hit the yard near his home on July 7. The bombing killed his father and injured him and his little brother Kyrylo Baev, 10. They were evacuated to Dnipro by train. Mykhailo has two fragments in his head that continue to threaten his life.
“War is evil because it takes everything from good people,” he says. “When this is all over, I want to be a chef. I want to go out and eat pizza. It’s so boring being here all the time, but at least I feel safe.”
Nine-year-old Veronika lives in an emergency shelter for internally displaced people in Chernihiv. Her house lacks gas, electricity and water due to shelling. The family relies on bottled water shipped to the area. “I will miss my home and my school,” says Veronika. “But I can’t come because of the sirens. I don’t want to spend any more time in the dormitory.”
Her mother Tetiana says: “Winter is coming and it’s going to be tough. We don’t know what to do. We have some bricks and wood, but that’s not enough. We need help because we cannot live in this house. We don’t know what to do.”
Student Olexandra Lomachuk breaks down and cries as she revisits her destroyed classroom in Irpin. On March 24, she read on Facebook that her father was missing. She says: “My father told us to get out of here, but he stayed. I called him several times but his phone was off. Since that day he came to my dreams and talked to me.”
Another student named Vlad says he feels ruined by the war. “I want to run my own business one day,” he says. “But the war destroys my dreams. Many people were killed.”
A student named Sviatoslav from Zhytomyr has benefited from Unicef’s work in preparing safer classrooms for students. He says: “When my school was destroyed, I was shocked. I didn’t know how to continue my studies or what to do next. First, we tracked online classes and looked for new schools that weren’t being bombed. Now I visit another center. It’s good here too, but my old school feels better. I am grateful for Unicef’s help as they helped us to renovate and build a bomb shelter in this building that has been empty for the last five years.”
Unicef currently supports 1,154 schools (nearly 10 percent of all schools in Ukraine) and will soon increase support for independent kindergartens as well. But more needs to be done and more than 5.5 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance as they continue to suffer the deadly effects of a brutal war.
Unicef says: “Even in times of war, children, their homes and the world around them should be protected.”
It is hoped that the passage of EWIPA’s political statement on Friday will strengthen protections for civilians from shelling in populated areas and hold nations accountable for failing to protect civilians.
Find out more about EWIPA’s policy statement and Unicef’s work here.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/photography/ukraine-russia-war-children-rockets-shelling-b2226566.html How the lives of Ukrainian children are being ripped apart by Russian missiles