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.


Notes for editors

For more information, please contact the Unicef UK press office on 020 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk 

Multimedia assets can be downloaded from: WeShare.unicef.org/MediaResources  Folder: Ukraine Crisis

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children.  As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk