Scattered and vulnerable: children in Ukraine two years into war – Save the Children UK

4 minutes, 19 seconds Read

In February 2022, the lives of many children in Ukraine changed forever.

Millions of families were left on the edge of survival, facing displacement and loss.

Two years later, it’s difficult to see envisage hope and the end of the conflict. Even though the situation in Ukraine no longer dominates the front pages of major international news outlets, the tragedy continues unabated with an average of three children being killed or injured every day. Millions of children from Ukraine know nothing but war with violence as a part of their everyday life.

Much like a body hit by an explosion, Ukraine has lost a lot of blood and energy, it is severely mentally and physically injured, with the vague prospect of a lengthy recovery ahead, grappling with the loss of human lives and widespread destruction.

When a humanitarian emergency strikes, the aid sector’s initial reaction is almost anaesthetic – to ease pain, save lives, and protect those in need from immediate harm. As a conflict continues for years, it becomes increasingly important to develop resilience and effectively respond to the challenges of the protracted crisis in Ukraine and beyond its borders.


Ukraine has lost over 6.3 million of its citizens, mostly women and children, due to migration[i]– an equivalent of the size of population of Bulgaria, Singapore, or Denmark. Many young Ukrainians are forced to live apart from their families, never having the normal experiences of coming together for a family holiday, watching a football game, or reading a bedtime story. They often spend hours every day calling their moms, dads, and grandparents who live miles away, separated by war.

A 16-year-old refugee activist from Ukraine, member of the Young Peacemakers Assembly told us that: “since the 24th of February 2022, I am living in two worlds. One of which is full of pain, suffering, blood, death, hopelessness, and guilt. The other is full of support, hope, perspectives, some safety and still guilt. Being forcibly displaced is challenging, no matter how welcomed you are.” (Arsenii, 15)

Ukrainian families who have been forced to flee their homes need the support and protection of their host countries until it is safe for them to return. With over 255,000 refugees from Ukraine in the UK[ii], it is crucial that the Government ensures protection that includes legal status, access to education, essential services, and support mechanisms that address both immediate and long-term needs.  

Depleted of resources

Ukraine is also facing economic challenges, with poverty levels among children reaching 65% in 2023. The total cost of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine is estimated by the World Bank to be $486 billion over the next decade[iii], with over 1.4 million homes and over 3,500 educational facilities reported as damaged or destroyed so far.

The UK government has pledged a total of £357 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and the region[iv].The Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023, held in London in 2023, received support from international allies and established the Ukraine Facility, a $60 billion fund allocated for the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine[v].

However, some much-needed funds remain deliberately locked. The UK Government was part of an agreement  to use the £2.3+ billion fund from the sale of Chelsea Football Club [vi] to support all victims of war in Ukraine wherever they are. Two years on, the money has not been released. These funds are critical to addressing the urgent needs of the victims of the war in Ukraine, Europe, and East Africa and should be released immediately.


When we talk about those who suffer the most, it is crucial to prioritise the protection of the most vulnerable, including those who have been forcibly transferred, are in institutions, or have experienced mental and physical trauma.

It is estimated that over 20,000 children have been transferred from Ukraine[vii], and this can be an extremely distressing experience for them as they are separated from their families and homes. Unaccompanied and separated children are especially vulnerable because they lack the necessary protection and care, which increases their risk of violence, abuse, exploitation, and trafficking. Therefore, the UK Government should take action and strengthen its efforts to reunite unaccompanied children with their family members.

Equally, it is a priority to assist over 1.5 million girls and boys in Ukraine in managing stress, anxiety or other mental health issues for years to come[viii].

After the initial shock two years ago, global humanitarian response as a pain killer helped Ukrainian families to survive and alleviate the loss. Now, the people of Ukraine and international community must prepare to build resilience and sustain long-term resourcing to help the new generation of Ukrainians reestablish their sense of identity, rebuild communities, and heal the wounds.

About Save the Children’s work in Ukraine

Save the Children and its partners remain dedicated to providing life-saving assistance to families who continue to be impacted by this crisis. We’ve been working in Ukraine since 2014 and scaled up our operations since the war escalated in February. We’ve also been providing critical support to children in neighbouring countries. As of the end of 2023, we have reached 2.1 million people, including over 870,000 children in Ukraine, and more than 490,000 people, including 297,000 children through our refugee response in Romania, Moldova, Lithuania, and Poland.

This post was originally published on 3rd party site mentioned in the title of this page

Similar Posts