500,000 Ukrainian children flee abroad as Russia invades. According to UNICEF, a significant percentage of the more than one million Ukrainians who fled the country as a result of the Russian invasion and bombardment of residential areas are vulnerable children.
500,000 Ukrainian children flee abroad as Russia invades
Half a million children, some unaccompanied, crossed the border into Poland and other neighbouring countries, UNICEF said. Underage refugees are at high risk of violence, abuse and exploitation, the agency said.
Overall, the Ukrainian exodus is causing many to fear that it will be Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
“In my nearly 40 years of working in refugee emergencies, I have rarely seen the great exodus happening so quickly today,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement. By contrast, the UN refugee agency said In 2013, it took more than three months for the number of refugees fleeing Syria to reach one million.
“The solidarity of the international community has been reassuring,” Grandi added. “However, nothing can replace the need to silence the gunfire and allow dialogue and diplomacy to succeed. Peace is the only way to stop this tragedy.”
The United Nations is urging countries hosting Ukrainian refugees to identify and register unaccompanied children to prevent their abduction and exploitation.
Most Ukrainians fled to Poland as well as Hungary, Romania, Moldova and Slovakia.
Many people risked their lives inside Ukraine to travel long distances to reach the border. A shocking video taken last Wednesday showed people crowding a platform in Kharkov, hoping to board a train to Uzhhorod, a city on the border with Slovakia.
According to Poland’s ambassador to the United Nations, Szczeski, those crossing the border into Poland had a “large number” of unaccompanied children. Many Ukrainian parents stayed in the country, especially fathers. By government order, men must stay in Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion.