Conflict in Ukraine has left 147 schools closed in parts of Donetsk Oblast where fighting is ongoing, and disrupted the education of some 50,000 children since September 1.
Some of the schools are in ruins and others remain closed because of safety concerns. In government-controlled areas 187 educational institutions have been damaged or destroyed.
“It is essential that children are able to return to school and resume their education. Children continue to bear the brunt of this conflict, with schooling disrupted and access to basic services limited. Some are witness to violent fighting and shelling. We remind all parties to the conflict in Ukraine to ensure all children are protected from the ongoing violence,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central & Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
In an emergency, school is critical for maintaining stability, structure and routine. In Ukraine, education helps alleviate trauma and stress for children living in conflict zones.
The situation for more than 1.7 million children affected by the growing crisis in eastern Ukraine remains extremely serious. Since March 2014, over 1 million people have been displaced from the conflict-affected areas, including nearly 530,000 people within Ukraine, of whom at least 130,000 are children.
There are limited opportunities for displaced children to be integrated in the education system in host communities because parents are not registering their children in new schools, as they expect either further displacement or intend to return home.
UNICEF requires US$32.4 million to scale up its humanitarian response to address the urgent needs of 600,000 children and their families in Ukraine:
• 225,000 affected school-aged children need supplies to access quality education
• 100,000 children need support to reduce heightened levels of stress
• Polio vaccines are urgently needed to immunize children at the Government’s request
• 250,000 children and women in affected areas need safe water and hygiene supplies
“UNICEF is grateful for contributions received to date. We call for urgent support to help UNICEF and partners to scale up our response to meet these children’s critical needs, especially as extremely harsh winter conditions have made the impact of the crisis more acute,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier.