The head of the United Nations children’s agency issued an urgent appeal to world leaders on Monday, saying the fighting in Ukraine was having an “unacceptable impact” on the country’s children.
“Children in Ukraine need help and protection. They need supplies. They need access to basic social services like health and education,” said Catherine Russell, executive director of the UNICEF, during the meeting of the UN Security Council on the crisis in Ukraine. “But above all, children need peace.”
Geneva-based UNICEF spokesman James Elder said on Friday that half a million children have been forced to flee their homes because of the conflict. Russell also said schools, homes and orphanages were attacked.
President Biden’s envoy to the UN, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the international community “is haunted by these images of destroyed homes, hospitals, schools, orphanages, demolished under our eyes, children with cancer unable to receive chemotherapy, babies born in basements instead of maternity wards, and hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to electricity for heating or drinking water to stay alive.”
The meeting came as France and Mexico draft a Security Council resolution that would call for safe passage for civilians hoping to flee Ukraine. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denied that Russia violated the ceasefires that have already been announced.
French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière, who is drafting the measure for the council, said: “What is happening before our eyes is a real humanitarian tragedy. Russian aggression kills civilians, including children, every day.
UN agencies have set up teams of workers in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and have relied on their continued presence in Romania, Moldova and Belarus to meet the urgent needs of children, said UNICEF said on Monday.