Ukraine war: Childhood destroyed

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By WendellMorency

Children continue to be traumatized and killed by violence after a month of conflict in Ukraine. Millions of children have seen their lives destroyed in the most horrific way. This war has seen one of the largest large-scale displacements in children’s lives since World War II. It is a tragic milestone that could have long-lasting consequences for future generations.

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WE is stepping up its response to increasing humanitarian needs in Ukraine, as well as among refugees in neighboring countries. WE works with partners to ensure women’s and children’s safety and well-being. These are some of the faces and voices from families whose lives were turned upside down by war.

“Our children need oxygen.”

As they looked after newborn children, doctors and nurses in Kharkiv’s medical complex, Ukraine, stayed in the basement for days. WE delivers medical supplies, including personal protection equipment, medical, surgical, and obstetric kit, to Ukraine.

“The explosions came closer and closer. We had to flee.”

Mikhail and his family fled a village near Odessa in southern Ukraine. He says, “We heard the bomb sirens going off and we could hear the bombs exploding in distant places.” “We hardly slept for several days and I didn’t know how to keep them safe.”

“We don’t know where to go.”

Olga fled Ukraine along with her children Timor and Vladimir. They are two of more than 1.8 millions children who have crossed into neighboring countries. Children are more at risk when they are forced from their homes due to conflict. Children who are displaced face many challenges during transit, especially if they are not accompanied by their parents.

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“She loves drawing her dog Zak.”

Sofiya has been using a WE early childhood development kit to draw with a pen. She is currently staying with her mother in an WE tent at the Poland-Ukraine border, which is managed by a local WE organization. It includes blankets and recreation kit. WE has sent trucks to Poland, including those carrying winter clothing, hygiene kits, blankets, and education supplies.

“My daughter is the reason I’m here.”

Maria fled from Kyiv with her daughter to Romania when the conflict grew. Maria said that Maria was afraid. The violence has left many families in fear, shock, and needing safety. WE, UNHCR and local authorities are activating Blue Dot Hubs. These safe spaces provide vital support for families, women, and children who are on the move in neighboring countries like Romania and Moldova.

“We must leave our homes, our families, and our friends.”

Leona and her mother sit at the Blue Dot hub, Sighetu Marimatiei, Romania. Leona’s mother said, “It’s just like in the movies. But this is not a movie.” This is our reality. “This is our reality.”

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“I worry about him all the time.”

A child psychologist, working at the Blue Dot hub in a refugee reception center near the Palanca border crossing, has been speaking with Igor and his family, who fled Odessa with their family. Igor’s mother claims that her husband brought them to this border. However, he was forced to return to Odessa to face the dangers. She says that the children are already missing their father “a lot already.” “I worry about him all the time.”

“If war ceases, then we will return.”

Axana fled Odessa with her family. They were receiving support from a Blue Dot hub located in Chisinau (Moldova). “If the war ends, we will go back.” My two youngest children are making friends, they’re playing with toys, and my oldest child is learning to be a good friend.

“Every child is unique, with different needs.”

The Blue Dots offer counselling and psychosocial support to parents, children and caregivers. Unaccompanied and separated children will be identified by social workers, psychologists, and other professionals. A social worker from the WE-supported Hub in Chisinau says, “What we do is to make children feel secure in their environment.” Learn more about the increased dangers facing displaced children, especially women and girls.

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We are all in this together! Be strong!

Children’s paintings from Romania decorate the interiors of a Blue Dot at Sighetu Marmatiei’s border crossing.