In the staggering figure of Ukrainian refugees (more than 1.7 million people), the fastest and most substantial exodus in European history since the post-war period, one thing stands out above all others and that is the number of children who have left their homes. According to UNICEF, some 500,000 children have already fled Ukraine.
“There are many Ukrainian cars heading for the European borders; almost all of them with only women and children on board,” colleagues on the ground tell us. “We wonder what the mothers will say to their children because they are travelling alone and the father is not with them.”
All schools in the country have been closed and some 5.7 million children and adolescents no longer have access to education. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science, at least 160 schools have been destroyed or damaged, although this figure has yet to be verified by the Education Cluster. The current circumstances only further exacerbate the complexity of children and adolescents’ educational problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing the risk of school drop-outs.
Collapsing borders: the critical situation in Hungary
UNHCR reports that in the last 10 days more than 1.7 million people have fled from Ukraine to neighbouring countries: after Poland (which registered 1,027,603 incoming) it is Hungary that is currently among the countries in trouble with about 180,163 refugees. This is followed by Slovakia with 128,169 and 82,762 in Moldova.
“Families, including many with young children, are fleeing with whatever clothes and food they can carry, in bitterly cold conditions, often facing huge queues to reach safety.”
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© Photo credits: Nenad Celarevic / Helvetas