Along with their fellow citizens, they suffer the threat of renewed assaults and atrocities committed by Russian troops.
Ukraine has warned that Russia is massing thousands of soldiers in readiness for a sustained assault in the east of the country in an attempt to take Luhansk and the Donbass region under their control.
As the official Russian news channels pump out disinformation on a grand scale for the consumption of its citizens, declaring that it was Ukrainians who were committing atrocities and that the “military operation” was going to plan, the UN has reported that 4.8 million of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children have been displaced since the start of the war.
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One mother of such a child was so desperate that she wrote contact information on her two-year-old daughter’s back, giving details of her name, age and some phone numbers, in case her family members were killed while attempting to flee from Kyiv. The mother said: “It was my biggest fear that Vira gets lost or that we become dead and she never finds out who she is or what family she is from.”
A harrowing piece on a BBC website opens with footage from Zaporizhzhia children’s hospital and shows the horrific injuries suffered by the innocent children currently occupying its hospital beds.
A two-year-old boy, Artem, is shown being treated for shrapnel wounds to his stomach and another patient, a 15 year-old-girl, Masha, has lost a leg and fractured an arm. A medic, speaking to camera, says: “The girl who lost her leg was so traumatised she wouldn’t eat or drink for days. She couldn’t mentally handle it. We had to feed her intravenously. Another boy, a six-year-old with shrapnel in his skull, described, without any emotion, watching his mother burn to death in their car after it was hit.”
A man whose daughter is being treated at the hospital tearfully describes the events that engulfed him as his other daughter was killed along with his grandchild. “I ran up to my granddaughter and I’m screaming ‘Dominica, Dominica’ but there she lies. I then rush to Natasha grabbing whatever I can find, a scarf to bandage her legs. My lovely girls, I failed to protect you.”
Unicef spokesperson James Elder aid that scores of children have been killed and many more wounded since the Russian invasion began. “Children I encountered were deeply stressed, deeply sad, many of them traumatised,” he said. “You’ve got to understand that they woke up one day to see their homes under attack, to see the stress on their families, to suddenly have to flee to bunkers. These children are living in a war zone. They are emotionally spent and psychologically at great risk of trauma.”
For our part in the West, we must continue to strive to report the effects of the war on the population of Ukraine and ensure that the spotlight continues to shine on the Russian warmongers and their savage armed forces – the children of Ukraine deserve no less.