INDEPENDENT NEWS

Over 700 Children Flee Northern Kharkiv As Fighting Intensifies

Published: Wed 22 May 2024 09:22 AM
Save the Children workers deliver water to humanitarian coordination centre in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (Photo supplied)
At least 700 children have been evacuated from border towns in Ukraine's northern Kharkiv region after intensified fighting displaced thousands, many of whom have been forced to flee multiple times, said Save the Children [1].
At least 30 people have been killed and 87 injured, including four children, since fighting escalated along the Ukraine-Russia border in recent weeks.
More than 16,000 people have been forced from their homes, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with around 10,000 being formally evacuated by local authorities or aid workers [2].
Most evacuees have settled in Kharkiv city, with around 40% requiring accommodation and many moving into temporary shelters known as collective sites [3]. These makeshift dormitories are often overcrowded and lack essential items such as clothing, hygiene products, and medicines, while also posing an increased risk of domestic violence and exploitation.
Safety remains a huge concern for the evacuated families in Kharkiv city. Ukraine’s second largest city - home to around 1.3 million people - has been under relentless bombardment in recent months, with airstrikes on schools, hospitals and residential areas.
Over the weekend, seven people were reportedly killed in a missile strike in a Kharkiv city suburb, and 28 were injured, including an eight-year-old girl. Kharkiv has been a major flashpoint in the war, repeatedly hit since the conflict began, displacing countless families and children multiple times. Due to constant bombardment and electricity cuts, children in Kharkiv city are missing out on education and have impaired access to healthcare.Sonia Khush, Save the Children Ukraine Country Director, said:
"This is heartbreaking. Children are being displaced again; families are being forced to abandon their homes again. For many, this has happened multiple times throughout this war. Plunged into uncertainty, they still cannot feel safe, and their only hope is to return home and to be spared from atrocities.
"Children, deprived of their childhood for more than two years now, are suffering the worst of this escalation. Instead of learning and playing peacefully, they find themselves trapped in a cycle of violence and fleeing the horrors of conflict again and again."
Almost 4 million people, including 946,000 children, are internally displaced across Ukraine, with over 111,500 people living in collective sites, according to the United Nations. At least 14.6 million people - around 40% of Ukraine’s current population - need humanitarian assistance to survive.
Save the Children calls for all parties to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. Civilians and civilian objects, especially those impacting children such as homes, schools, and hospitals, must be protected from attack all the time.
Save the Children has been working in Ukraine since 2014 and has scaled up operations since the war escalated in February 2022. The organisation is working closely with multiple partners to provide life-saving assistance such as food and water, cash transfers, and safe spaces, to make sure children and families impacted by this crisis have the support they need.Note:
According to the Relief Coordination Centre, 274 children were evacuated and registered at the Kharkiv transit centre, and 429 children were registered as self-evacuated on 10-19 May.

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