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War: Not a child's play

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

For many #children, the sudden and drastic changes brought upon their lives by Putin’s #war defy sense and any attempts at explanation. Many have been uprooted from their familiar surroundings and separated from their parents. Those who have stayed in #Ukraine have been suffering psychologically.

Over 1.5 million Ukrainian minors had become #refugees in neighbouring countries and many more remain internally #displaced. The conflict leads to threats of #trafficking, #exploitation, #abuse and other forms of violence. Children will face life-long psychological issues because of the #trauma resulting from war and forced displacement.

Around half of Ukraine’s total refugee count is children which the #UNICEF has called a “dark historical first”. The number is worrying considering the number of unaccompanied minors detected at various crossing points. UNHCR has warned that the risks for trafficking without parental care are high when moving across borders.

UNICEF and UNHCR partnered with host governments and civil organisations to set up safe screening spaces called “Blue Dots”, which would provide key information to travelling families and to help identify unaccompanied children to provide them with essential services. UNICEF has also been working to provide easy mobility to children with disabilities and those with terminal illnesses.

Caretakers and host societies have taken it upon themselves to help children adjust to the new situation. Host countries have used familiar symbols of cartoons, like the image of the popular cartoon Bolek and Lolek to put a sense of comfort and security. Artist ChemiS have unveiled a mural depicting a Ukrainian girl taking shelter under a blue-and-yellow flag, accompanied by cartoon characters like the Czech Krtek, Polish Bolek and Lolek, German Maya the Bee, Finnish Moomins, French Obelix and Mickey Mouse.

Without the proper tools and care, many children face life-altering consequences in the form of physical and psychological trauma. We join the UNICEF’s call to strengthen child protection screenings at border crossings and provide the necessary resources and services to at-risk children.

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