After almost 100 days of war in Ukraine, the UN says 5.2 million children need humanitarian help l SBS News

Almost 100 days of war in Ukraine have left more than 5.2 million children in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations children’s agency, as it continues its call for an immediate ceasefire. This Friday will mark the 100th day of the invasion — which Russian president Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation” — and followed the annexation of Crimea in 2014.United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday that the war has wrought “devastating consequences for children at a scale and speed not seen since World War Two”, with three million children in Ukraine and over 2.2 million others in refugee-hosting countries now requiring humanitarian assistance. READ MOREAlmost two out of every three of these children have been displaced by fighting, UNICEF said. It said at least 262 children have been killed and 415 injured in attacks since the start of the fighting.Citing reports verified by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), it said that on average, more than two children are killed and more than four injured each day in Ukraine – “mostly in attacks using explosive weapons in populated areas”. Civilian infrastructure upon which children depend “continues to be damaged or destroyed,” according to UNICEF, including at least 256 health facilities and one in six UNICEF-supported ‘Safe Schools’ in Ukraine’s east, Alina and Artem, who are both aged nine and from the northeastern city of Kharkiv, are seen playing with a phone in the underground car park which serves as a bomb shelter. Credit: UNICEF/Aleksey FilippovUNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said: “We are solemnly approaching 3 June – the 100th day of a war that has shattered the lives of millions of children.” Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression. A Kremlin spokesperson has previously said . Last month, Russia’s defence ministry said that nearly 200,000 children and 1.1 million people had been evacuated from Ukraine into Russia since 24 February. On 3 May, it said more than 11,500 people, including 1,847 children, were transported from Ukraine into Russia the previous day without the participation of Kyiv’s authorities. READ MORERussia claims the people have been evacuated at their own request, while Ukraine says Moscow has forcefully deported thousands of people to Russia since the war’s beginning. UNICEF is also warning that the war has caused an “acute child protection crisis”, with children fleeing violence being at significant risk of family separation, violence, abuse, sexual exploitation and trafficking. “At the same time, the war and mass displacement are devastating livelihoods and economic opportunities, leaving many families without sufficient income to meet basic needs and unable to provide adequate support for their children,” it said. Russia has been seeking to seize the entire Donbas, comprised of the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, which Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.As Russian forces push into key objectives in the region, UNICEF continued its call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and “to protect all children from harm”. “Without an urgent ceasefire and negotiated peace, children will continue to suffer – and fallout from the war will impact vulnerable children around the world,” Ms Russell said. UNICEF’s call includes ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and attacks on civilian infrastructure, it says. The agency is appealing for full humanitarian access “to safely and quickly reach children in need wherever they may be”. With Reuters