The head of the U.N. children’s agency issued an urgent plea to world leaders Monday, saying the fighting in Ukraine is having an “unconscionable impact” on the nation’s children.
“Children in Ukraine need help and protection. They need supplies. They need access to basic social services like health and education,” Catherine Russell, the executive director of UNICEF, said at the U.N. Security Council’s meeting on the crisis in Ukraine. “But above all, children need peace.”
UNICEF’s Geneva-based spokesman James Elder said Friday half a million children have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict. Russell also said schools, homes and orphanages have come under attack.
President Biden’s U.N. envoy, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the international community “is haunted by these images of homes, hospitals, schools, orphanages being destroyed, demolished in front of our eyes, child cancer patients unable to receive chemotherapy, babies delivered in basements instead of maternity wards, and hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to electricity for heat or drinking water to stay alive.”
The meeting came as France and Mexico are crafting a Security Council resolution that would call for a safe passage of civilians hoping to flee Ukraine. Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denied that Russia violated the cease-fires that have already been called.
France’s Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere, who is drafting the measure for the council, said, “What is happening before our eyes is a true humanitarian tragedy. The Russian aggression is killing civilians, including children, every day.”
U.N. agencies have set up teams of workers in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and have built on their ongoing presence in Romania, Moldova and Belarus to support the urgent needs of children, UNICEF said on Monday.