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Conflict in Ukraine leaves almost 150 schools closed: UNICEF

2014-12-22

NEW YORK/GENEVA/KYIV, 19 December 2014 – 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.

Note to Editors:

UNICEF has received US$9.4 million in funding and pledges to date. Through this support, UNICEF has been working in the following areas:

Education

  • UNICEF is reaching 200,000 families with children with information on mine and unexploded ordinance risks and safe behaviour.
  • Education kits and education supplies have been distributed to displaced children.

Child Protection

  • UNICEF is training 400 schools psychologists, who will reach 4,000 children and care-takers with psychological support and counselling;
  • We are supporting the hotline for parents and children, which provided consultations to over 5,000 callers in just one month of November 2014;
  • Together with partners UNICEF has provided targeted psycho-social outreach to more than 500 children and parents in support centres;
  • We are developing 12 Community Protection Centers to benefit over 30,000 children and caregivers.

Health and Nutrition

  • UNICEF is procuring basic emergency health kits and midwifery kits, which will support health care services outreaching 130,000 IDPs and people in areas of on-going fighting.
  • We are providing information about the benefits of breastfeeding in emergencies as a life-saving practice and helpline to over 5,000 mothers.
  • UNICEF is initiating the procurement process for polio vaccines in cooperation with the Government of Ukraine.

Access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

  • UNICEF has been providing safe drinking water to over 100,000 people in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and will reach over 60,000 children and families with hygiene supplies and information to prevent life-threatening diseases to thousands of children and families.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

Multimedia assets can be downloaded from: http://uni.cf/1wyEJxl and http://uni.cf/1qQovQM

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.