Today is exactly one year since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. It is exactly one year that Ukrainian children have been living under conditions of full-scale war: conditions of fear, of pain, of endless grief and tears.
As at 20 February 2023, 461 Ukrainian children have been killed as the result of Russian military action.
These are the children who will never grow up. These are the children who will never again play football, play computer games or play with their dolls. These are the children who will never see the sun rise again.
As at 20 February 2023, 926 Ukrainian children have been injured as a result of hostilities.
These are the children who have lost an arm or a leg as a consequence of Russian military actions. These are the children whose faces and bodies have been completely disfigured. These are the children who will always remember what war is, because they have become the children of war.
348 Ukrainian children have gone missing during the last year. 16,207 Ukrainian children have been forcibly deported to Russian territory.
These are the children who were not asked if they wanted to go to another country, they were forcibly removed from their homeland. These are the children who weren’t even allowed to evacuate to territory controlled by Ukraine.
These are the children being forced to sit in basements while the war rages on, instead of enjoying an ordinary childhood and leading a happy life. These are the children who are dying because of enemy shelling, or a shortage or complete absence of food or water in their settlements, instead of spending time with their friends and going to school. These are the children being traumatized by Russia. Russia is killing these Ukrainian children.
As the National Toll-Free Hot Line for Children and Youth, operated by the civil society organization “La Strada-Ukraine”, we remain in our country to support all of our children and young people. During the past 365 days we have provided more than 180,000 consultations for children from different parts of Ukraine (including from Ukrainian territories not currently under Ukraine control), as well as the children who have been forced to leave Ukraine and go abroad, and who cannot always get the help they need due to the language barriers that exist in the countries to which they have fled.
In 2022 the National Toll-Free Hot Line for Children and Youth responded to the crisis and began working round the clock, thanks to the financial support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine. Twenty consultants (psychologists, lawyers, social workers) ensure the 24/7 work of the National Toll-Free Hot Line for Children and Youth continues for our children and young people, wherever they might find themselves. Every one of our consultants plays an important role in providing support to all Ukrainian children, and all of us continue to live and work, for victory and for peace in Ukraine.
For all of these children.