Nearly 600,000 children affected by conflict in Ukraine: Unicef

Geneva, Feb 19 (IANS) Two years of violence have deeply affected the lives of 580,000 children living in non-government controlled areas and close to the frontline in eastern Ukraine, the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef), reported on Friday.

Around one in three of these children are in need of psychosocial support as a result of a crisis which has internally displaced some 215,000 children from conflict-affected areas, the agency said, Xinhua reported.

“Two years of violence, shelling and fear have left an indelible mark on thousands of children in eastern Ukraine,” Unicef representative in Ukraine Giovanna Barberis said in a statement.

At least 20 percent of schools have been damaged or destroyed by ongoing violence that killed more than 20 children and injured a further 40 last year.

Some 28 of these casualties were caused by mines and exploded ordnance, Unicef said.

Further damage to basic infrastructure has also jeopardized water supplies for some two million people across the frontline, while children become more and more prone to respiratory infections as temperatures drop amid fuel shortages and high coal prices.

A lack of access to health services and a shortage of medicines are further compounding the situation for children who risk contracting other diseases.

“Unicef calls on all parties to the conflict in Ukraine to ensure safe movement and unhindered humanitarian access to help children in need,” Barberis concluded.

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