There are no casualties of war without some loss. A loved one is gone. lives taken.
But no one loses more in war than children.
Ukraine is running out of time to prevent a new “lost generation”. This expression is often used not only for young lives taken away, but also for children who are too psychologically scarred to change the front at the expense of education, passion or friendship. Healed.
The online ticker “Children of War” at the top of the Ukrainian government’s page is flickering with grim numbers and steadily increasing. Dead: 361, injured: 702, missing: 206, found: 4,214. Exiled: 6,159. Returned: 50.
“Everyone in Ukraine’s 5.7 million children is traumatized,” said Murat Sahin, head of UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency in Ukraine. “I’m not saying 10% or 50% is fine. Everyone has it and it takes years to heal.”
According to humanitarian agencies, more than a third of Ukrainian children (2.2 million) have been displaced from their homes, many of whom have been displaced two or three times and have lost their territories. More than half of Ukraine’s children (3.6 million) may not be able to return to school in September.
But even as the war enters its sixth month, advocates for children say it’s time to make meaningful changes to how young people emerge from conflict.
In Lviv’s maternity ward, mothers are praying that the fight will end before their infants are old enough to remember it. Activists search for missing children on the front lines in eastern Ukraine. Across the country, aid workers and Ukrainian officials are rushing to repair bombed-out schools and begin providing psychological support.
“We believe in the resilience of children,” said Ramon Shahzamani, president of War Child Holland, a group focused on psychological and educational support for children in conflict areas.
“The sooner we can reach out to children and help them deal with what they have experienced and seen, the better they will be able to deal with their emotions,” he said. .
Their resilience is evident in how the children have adapted to their daily routines. For example, he scribbles with crayons and paints on the walls of the damp basement where he is confined, and invents games based on frequent checkpoint stops. They imitate the dire realities they witness in war, but also find ways to escape it.
In Donbass, a 13-year-old girl named Daria no longer flinched or ran when a shell hit her nearby.
Still, there is a price to pay for unhealed psychological trauma. And the impact is not only mental, but also physical.
Sonia Kush, director of Save the Children in Ukraine, said children exposed to war are at risk of “toxic stress” caused by extreme adversity. is so powerful that it alters the structure and organ systems of the brain and lasts long into adulthood in children.
Providing a hopeful path through war is not just for Ukrainian children today, Shazamani said. It is also for the future of the country.
The Children of War group recently investigated the children and grandchildren of those who survived World War II and found that even two generations later, families were affected by wartime trauma.
“War is intergenerational,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to address the well-being and mental health of children.”
Kush said education is essential for psychological support. Schools can provide peer social networks, guidance from teachers, and daily life in a time of pervasive uncertainty.
According to United Nations statistics, out of approximately 17,000 schools in Ukraine, more than 2,000 were damaged in the war and 221 were destroyed. Another 3,500 of him are being used to protect or assist her 7 million Ukrainians who have fled to safer parts of the country. No one knows how many will open when he starts the school year in a month from now.
Social destruction is even more difficult to repair. Thousands of families are torn apart as brothers and fathers are drafted or killed, and children are forced to flee, leaving their grandparents and friends behind. Aid workers have noticed increasing problems with nightmares and aggressive behavior in young children.
Before the invasion, Ukraine had about 91,000 children in orphanages, more than half of whom had disabilities, Shahin said. No tally has been released as to how much that number has increased since the war began.
One of the major uncertainties of war is the number of children who are orphaned or separated from their parents. But besides orphans, Moscow also deported tens of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia, according to Ukrainian officials. Many are believed to be children separated from their parents.
Now, Ukrainian activists are using covert networks within Russia-controlled areas to try to obtain information about those children – and, if possible, to bring them back.
Orphans also have hope. A new initiative led by the Government of Ukraine and UNICEF encouraged around 21,000 families to register as foster parents. Already he has 1,000 trained and adopted children.
“This is just the beginning,” said Ukraine’s Minister of Social Policy Marina Lazevna. “Destruction may encourage building something new rather than rebuilding the past. “