A year for most children is a lifetime…

A year for most children is a lifetime…

A year ago, the conflict hit close to home when war broke out in Ukraine. It is a year of uncertainty, fear, broken dreams, broken families and disrupted lives.

About 6.5 million people have been displaced from their homes, 1.2 million of whom are children. Almost 7 million children are at risk due to attacks on critical infrastructure, leaving them without sustained access to electricity, heat and water.

A child-friendly bomb shelter was integrated into Irpin School’s renovation plans, creating a welcoming space for children during air raids

Dramatic consequences

I traveled to Poland and Ukraine in November and saw the dramatic consequences of the war on the local communities. I also saw the level of dedication and hard work of my UNICEF colleagues on the ground: not only implementing programs for children, but also finding innovative and creative solutions with limited funds, from an improvised water filtration system in a shelter to work with local network to produce and deliver winter clothing.

On the second day of my visit, already deeply moved by the devastation I had seen in Ukraine and stories of displaced families I had met in Poland, I visited a temporary maternity ward in the basement of the hospital in Zhytomyr, where the health workers were, in the essential works in a bomb shelter.

Earlier that morning they had helped deliver twin boys. The twins were weak and had been placed in an incubator – a stark reminder of the fragility of life. The health workers I met that day gave these infants a chance at life, and the selflessness and bravery I witnessed was immense.

I was grateful that UNICEF could play a role in supporting them with the equipment and supplies they need to fulfill an infant’s right to survive and thrive.

Perspective in the shelter

The following day I visited a newly built, child-friendly bomb shelter at Irpin School, which had been badly damaged and subsequently renovated with support from UNICEF – in close cooperation with the school and the municipality. Its bright and welcoming atmosphere contrasted with the reality of war outside and created a welcoming space for the children who would spend time there.

During my visit to Ukraine, sheltering for several hours during air raids gave me a new perspective. My personal experience was intense, albeit brief. Spending time underground is a harrowing experience, especially if you’re a parent holed up with your child—or, perhaps worse, separated from your child when the sirens go off and have to take shelter—and don’t know what the future brings.

It is a child’s right to grow up in a peaceful environment without fear of death or hunger, and it is heartbreaking to see parents worry about whether their child will live tomorrow.

A year for most children is a lifetime...

Etleva Kadilli visits a UNICEF-supported factory that locally produces winter kits for families and supplies them with warm clothes and blankets

Children are prioritized

UNICEF believes that children’s rights must be protected and our mantra is to be there for every child. Within two weeks of the start of the war, six trucks were dispatched from our Global Supply Hub here in Copenhagen – among the first emergency aid from humanitarian organisations.

To date, we have delivered goods and services worth 163 million US dollars to Ukraine and neighboring countries, including medical products, winter clothing and hygiene materials.

We have also supported the establishment of Blue Dot hubs along border crossings to receive Ukrainian families forced to leave their homes. These hubs provide a safe, warm space with welcoming recreational facilities and psychological support. When I visited Blue Dots in Poland, I saw the difference they make to the vulnerable families who land there.

Works around the clock

UNICEF’s Supply Division has deployed 33 staff to Moldova, Poland and Ukraine over the past year to help set up the emergency supply chain (supply planning, procurement, storage and rehabilitation of facilities and distribution). Colleagues who have spent time there make personal connections to the work on the ground and the people who do it. And they come back even more engaged.

UNICEF staff in Ukraine are working around the clock to help families and communities, keep essential health services running, give children some respite through support for educational and recreational activities, and provide basic necessities and medicine.

We are expanding our local programs which provide psychological and psychosocial support, advice on nutrition and child development and support for vulnerable families with necessary warm clothing and cash assistance.

A year for most children is a lifetime...

A temporary delivery room and intensive care unit for premature babies in the basement of a local hospital. Since March 1, around 290 babies have been born in this basement home

Determined to persevere

My trip was many things: it was shocking and humbling, yet beautiful and inspiring because of the lengths people go to help each other. It challenged me to do my utmost so that UNICEF can do even more for the children affected by this war.

We are grateful for the strong national government leadership at all levels, along with donors’ generous support and unwavering solidarity, that enable UNICEF to bring some relief to Ukrainian families.

Our support will remain strong in the hope that there will soon be an end to the war so that the children of Ukraine can live their childhood in peace and realize their dreams for the future.

Source: The Nordic Page

Related Posts: