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Interview with Ukrainian children reveals their pure desire for peace.
Europe World News

Interview with Ukrainian children reveals their pure desire for peace.

The UN human rights office, OHCHR, has confirmed that more than 10,000 innocent individuals have lost their lives since the start of the invasion in February 2022. However, the true number of deaths may be significantly higher.

More than 10 million individuals have been compelled to leave their residences, with a majority of 6.3 million seeking sanctuary outside of Ukraine.

UNICEF has been present in Ukraine both prior to and during the conflict, offering assistance and resources.

UNICEF Representative, Munir Mammadzade, is currently serving in the country. When asked by UN News, Mammadzade shared insights on how the conflict has affected children.

Munir Mammadzade sits with a young Ukrainian in a UNICEF-supported facility.

Munir Mammadzade is seated alongside a Ukrainian youth at a facility supported by UNICEF.

The primary difficulty Ukraine is currently dealing with is the ongoing harm and devastation to key infrastructure. This includes numerous schools and hospitals, as well as essential systems such as drinking water, sanitation, energy, and heating.

On a regular basis, we are informed of incidents involving schools and hospitals being impacted, with children sustaining injuries. Just today, we were notified of an assault in Kherson.

As the duration of this conflict continues, it has a greater impact on individuals, particularly children. In Ukraine, almost two-thirds of children have been displaced from their residences at some point in this ongoing war.

As this continues, more individuals, particularly children, will be impacted.

Children are already among the most vulnerable to the impacts of the war. Besides insecurity from constant air attacks and air alerts, their lives have been interrupted so they are missing out on schooling, socializing with friends and their social emotional development.

73% of Ukrainian citizens have experienced a reduction in their earnings, which has a direct impact on the welfare of children within households. Certain caregivers may struggle to afford necessities such as warm clothing, proper nutrition, and bedding for their children.

What initiatives is UNICEF focusing on in Ukraine?

Munir Mammadzade: UNICEF works in various areas of health, including maternal and child health, early childhood development, education, skills for adolescents and young people, and protection issues.

We have increased our initiatives with the Ukrainian government and local officials to provide assistance to children and families, such as distributing 44,000 sets of winter clothing. Currently, we are also focusing on other winter-related actions.

The lives of children have been severely disrupted by the war in Ukraine.

© UNICEF/Aleksey Filippov

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has greatly disrupted the lives of children.

We are collaborating with local officials to ensure the continued operation of essential infrastructure, including water, heating, healthcare, and educational facilities.

I have visited Marhanets, a community in close proximity to the frontline, and observed firsthand the positive impact of UNICEF’s assistance on community members and children.

In various front line locations, families have been provided with fuel to meet their requirements. Additionally, we have supplied 40 generators to water utility companies in order to maintain operational systems.

How much has the provision of education been impacted?

Munir Mammadzade: Some 5.3 million children face barriers that prevent them from accessing quality and comprehensive education; 7,000 schools remain inaccessible as they are closed due to insecurity. Some were damaged or destroyed and others are being used in the conflict, forcing children to learn online.

There are indications that children throughout Ukraine are experiencing a decline in academic progress, specifically in areas such as language, reading, mathematics, and other fundamental subjects.

We provide assistance to educators who are at the forefront of teaching children, who should not be overlooked as they are also in a vulnerable position.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your job?

I am also impressed by UNICEF’s innovative solutions to address the various obstacles faced by people in this region.

Munir Mammadzade: UNICEF-supported facilities can be found in numerous locations, providing opportunities for children and their parents to bond and for children to experience a fulfilling childhood while receiving access to various services through referrals.

I am impressed by UNICEF’s ingenuity in addressing the plethora of obstacles that individuals encounter in this region.

We still have a lot to overcome as the war continues and people continue to suffer from its effects.

The nation is currently facing a critical situation in terms of humanitarian and social issues. Due to a shortage of workers, essential services are not being adequately provided. Therefore, organizations such as UNICEF will continue to remain and fulfill their duties.

What are your thoughts on how Ukrainian citizens are dealing with the current situation?

Munir Mammadzade: It is the hope that people have that has struck me most. The resilience of Ukrainian people and their unwavering spirit to rebuild, their incredible kindness towards one another and to foreigners like myself and their determination to protect their children’s future. That gives us all hope.

I notice this strong commitment from the government in Kyiv and from state and city leaders, as well as from service providers, families, and even children.

The dedication of humanitarian workers, who put themselves in danger to provide crucial assistance and emotional care to children and families, fills me with optimism that Ukraine’s future will be brighter. This is due to the dreams of children and their pure belief in peace.