scorecardThe war in Ukraine has left 5.2 million kids in need of assistance so far
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The war in Ukraine has left 5.2 million kids in need of assistance so far

Sarah Al-Arshani   

The war in Ukraine has left 5.2 million kids in need of assistance so far
LifeInternational3 min read
  • Friday marks 100 days since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
  • UNICEF says the consequences for children have reached a level not seen since World War II.

Over three months of war in Ukraine has led to "devastating consequences for children at a scale and speed not seen since World War II" — with 5.2 million children in need of assistance, UNICEF said.

The figure includes three million inside Ukraine and another 2.2 million as refugees from nearby countries.

UNICEF spokesman Joe English told Insider that kids in active war zones are in need of the most basic life supplies.

"They've been forced out of their homes. Their homes have been destroyed," English said. "They have nowhere left to go back to."

As of May 31, over 4,100 people have been killed in Ukraine, including at least 264 children. More than 420 kids have also been injured.

UNICEF warned that the war is causing an "acute child protection crisis" and has called for a ceasefire to protect kids.

"Children fleeing violence are at significant risk of family separation, violence, abuse, sexual exploitation, and trafficking," UNICEF said. "Most have been exposed to deeply traumatic events. These children urgently need safety, stability, child protection services, and psychosocial support – especially those who are unaccompanied or have been separated from their families."

The organization added: "More than anything, they need peace."

English said some of the necessities include things like safe drinking water, adding that 1.4 million people in the eastern part of the country don't have access to safe drinking water. Kids are also in need to nutritional and medical supplies, as well as education tools and toys, he said.

"It's vital that we address not only those immediate needs of children and families... but then also stuff like education, supplies, toys, psychosocial support for children because you can keep children alive but you also need to give them that little bit of hope for the future," English said.

UNICEF's findings come as Russia's invasion of Ukraine nears its 100th day. For the past several months, Ukraine has been able to hold off on what was projected to be a close capture by Russia.

The invasion triggered a multitude of sanctions by western nations against Russia, the latest of which was on Monday, when the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that they would cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia by the end of the year.

With Russia being one of the world's top global producers of crude oil, the move could significantly impact revenue and the global economy as a whole. However, even as Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration says they plan to sell to other importers, there has been pressure inside of the country to end the war as well.

Two regional officials in Russia have publicly called on Putin to end the war. Despite internal and international pressure to end the war on Ukraine, the Kremlin still believes they have a chance at winning, and the offensive in the Donbas region is still underway, with Russia gaining more ground.

The bombing and fighting has destroyed entire cities and infrastructure, with millions of people displaced or fleeing the country. UNICEF has called for the end of the use "of explosive weapons in populated areas and attacks on civilian infrastructure."

English said a ceasefire would help get the necessary supplies to people trapped in underground bunkers in areas where there are active bombings and fighting.

The impact of the war extends beyond just the region and Europe. Experts have warned that the invasion could lead to a food crisis as supplies like wheat decrease. That impact could raise prices and additionally limit with support for other crises.

"A sad postscript to this conflict is that it's having an impact on children and families who are thousands and thousands of miles away — many of whom are already among the most vulnerable children in the world," English said. "So Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria — this is having an impact not only in terms of the wheat supplies and food supplies that both Ukraine and Russia are a huge sources of but also in terms of the wider economic impacts of this crisis."