27 January 2015 – Over 1,000 children have been forced to seek refuge in underground bomb shelters in Donetsk city due to ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine, Unicef said today.
“Children in the affected areas have been suffering enormous levels of stress due to the ongoing conflict,” said Giovanna Barberis, Unicef Representative in Ukraine. “The most vulnerable are those who have been forced to seek refuge in unsanitary, crowded and freezing cellars and bomb shelters, children living on the streets, and those who come from poor families or whose homes have been severely damaged.”
Since September, thousands of people in areas where fighting is ongoing have been spending most of their days and all of their nights in at least 12 bomb shelters with little or no access to water, hygiene, sanitation or food, according to Unicef. Whereas sizes and conditions of the shelters vary, 1,000 children are estimated to be regularly seeking refuge in these shelters during heavy shelling in Donetsk city alone.
“Unicef reminds all parties to the conflict in Ukraine to keep children out of harm’s way,” Ms. Barberis said.
"We also urge the international community to act now to provide the thousands of children affected with the basic assistance they need."
Unicef has provided hygiene kits to over 1,100 children and adults living in shelters and basements. Unicef will also shortly begin providing winter clothing kits to at least 10,000 vulnerable children in the conflict-affected areas.
Since March 2014, over 1.5 million people have been displaced from the conflict-affected areas, including nearly 1 million people within Ukraine. Of these, more than 130,000 are children.
In December 2014, Unicef has called for additional support of US$32.4 million (£21.3 million) to scale up its humanitarian response to address the urgent needs of children and families in conflict-affected areas in Ukraine. So far, US$10.16 million (£6.7 million) have been received.
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