Vladimir Putin wants to raze Ukraine to the ground while his bombing is destroying the lives and futures of children. Overnight he erased smiles, dreams and the innocence of thousands of Ukrainian children who had no idea what a war, a bomb or death was.
While the Russian tyrant sends bombs, missiles and troops to wipe out Ukrainian cities, thousands of children are hiding in shelters with or without their mothers, waiting to smile again, play in a park, or meet their parents who went out to fight for their freedom.
As Putin commits genocide, thousands of children escape the war and become refugees in neighboring countries. Their toys, their schools, their schoolmates, will remain in the memory of a country that does not know its future and will have to be rebuilt.
According to UNHCR, more than half a million children and women are taking refuge in neighboring countries following the invasion; and according to Ukraine’s ambassador in Geneva, Yevhenia Filipenko, more than 350 civilians have died, including 16 children.
But the victims are multiplying and the alarms of specialists keep ringing because they know that the damage of this war will be even greater than any physical damage. The psychological damage and emotional impact reaches more than 7.5 million Ukrainian children, according to Andrés Conde, general director of Save The Children. “There is a very strong situation of anguish and emotional stress,” Conde told Atlas Spain.
Follow the account of the Russian invasion of Ukraine here.
A Ukrainian government order prohibits men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country — to make them available for military conscription — which means that many women and children have to seek refuge on their own. Many children are losing their fathers and siblings in this war and many mothers are losing their children.
The images and videos on social media are heartbreaking and very moving. Mark Goncharuk’s story is an example of how much the young victims of this invasion are suffering.
“We left dad in Kyiv and dad will be selling things and helping our heroes, our army. He might even fight. We’ve been walking for many hours and you saved us. We thought we would have to walk for many days. You helped us,” said a tearful Goncharuk who is no older than 6 years old.
There are thousands of children like Mark who are fleeing with their mothers, but also like him there are thousands more locked up in shelters without seeing daylight for more than five days. In addition to them, there are babies who have been born in very poor conditions due to the invasion that welcomed them while beginning their lives.
A report published in La Nación revealed that at least 6 babies were born in shelters and others were born in the basements of hospitals in the middle of the war.
Ukrainian orphaned children: a worsening tragedy
The drama of Ukrainian children can be even worse, not only for the thousands who escape from the war but also for the other thousands who were orphaned and today, in the middle of the invasion, do not have a mother to turn to.
Last February 27, the Italian government reported that it is working to create corridors to allow orphaned children from Ukraine to reach the country safely as soon as possible and to welcome them in the best possible conditions once they are on Italian territory.
“The situation of serious precariousness of orphaned children in Ukraine following the Russian aggression is worrying and requires the prompt implementation of all measures for their protection provided for in international agreements,” said the Italian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, and Equal Opportunities and Family, Elena Bonetti, in an article.
Now it remains to be seen how many thousands more will be orphaned by an invasion that wiped out their families, their homes and even their innocence.