Russia’s savage strikes on energy infrastructure across Ukraine are putting “almost every child in Ukraine at desperate risk”, UNICEF has warned.
Widespread blackouts, as well as disruption to both heating and water supplies have plunged millions of Ukrainian civilians into the freezing cold during the brutal winter months, the agency said, and at least 1.2 million children have been displaced by these attacks.
Unicef’s executive director, Catherine Russell, said children in Ukraine are “facing a bleak winter huddled in the cold and the dark” with temperatures of below -20C.
Beyond the obvious threats to their physical well-being, Ms Russell added that an estimated 1.5 million children are at risk of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental conditions this winter.
She said: “Beyond the immediate threats the freezing conditions bring, children are also deprived of the ability to learn or stay connected with friends and family, putting both their physical and their mental health at desperate risk.”
Schools across the country have been destroyed or damaged, while the risk of further attacks has left many unable to participate in education in person. What’s more, online learning opportunities have been heavily disrupted by the electricity blackouts.
Ms Russell called on Unicef and other aid programs to be given “rapid and unimpeded” access to children and families in need of humanitarian assistance no matter where they are.
She added: “The rules of war are clear – children and the essential civilian infrastructure they rely on to survive must be protected.”