UNICEF Director-General warns that “half of Ukrainians who cross the border are children”

“Half of the Ukrainians who crossed the border are children”, Explains, Tuesday 4 May in franceinfo, Anne Avril, UNICEF Director-General. According to her, “Almost every second, for two months, a child crosses the border of his country.” It calls on neighboring countries to welcome these children “in the best possible circumstances” and for “Continue the momentum of solidarity.”

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France Info: Dozens of people have arrived in Zaporizhia, a city still under the control of the Ukrainian authorities, after being evacuated from Mariupol where they took refuge for weeks at the Azovstal plant. Among them are children. How do you take care of them?

Ann April: These children are very shocked. They need two things. They need to be housed in safety, to be protected from bombs, and they need physical security that must be provided to them urgently. That’s what we’re doing at UNICEF with all the humanitarian organizations that are right there. For now, they can be housed in humane corridors. It is still uncertain. These are a few dozen children. But above all, it is very important that we can quickly overcome this trauma by putting them in safety, by providing them with care, food, water and access to hygiene. These are basics for all of us, but they have been completely deprived of for several weeks.

In April, there are more than 7,700,000 Ukrainians forced to flee their homes and more than five and a half million Ukrainians have fled their country. Of all these people, how many children are there?

About half of the Ukrainians who crossed the border are children. That is, he is almost a child every second he crosses his country’s borders for two months. Leaving without knowing when they can return, often with the mother or grandparents. It is absolutely necessary that we neighboring countries, and I am speaking of Europe in general, be able to welcome them in the best possible conditions. At UNICEF, we have made arrangements in all neighboring countries to welcome these children. Above all, it is very important to continue the momentum of solidarity that has begun. That is, to make donations, to continue the support that everyone can give to Ukrainian children. Every gesture has its value. A donation of €20 or €50 is significant and is materially translated on the ground through actions by UNICEF and UNICEF partners.

Are there children who have fled their homes and their neighborhood without their parents?

The issue of unaccompanied children is very important. They are more vulnerable than other children and it is very important to refer them to the authorities of the countries that will receive them so that they are taken care of in the reception structures designated for these children. They are particularly prone to trafficking problems, which are very common in this type of situation.

How do you distribute the reception of these children?

Peace is the priority for the children of Ukraine. These kids don’t deserve what happened. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will mitigate the effects of the war, but we will not stop the war. We must be able to hope that peace will return as soon as possible so that these children can rebuild a sustainable future in their country. UNICEF estimates that 2.2 million children are at risk in Ukraine, meaning those who need humanitarian assistance, relief and basic care to survive and are therefore in immediate danger. There are hundreds, perhaps still in Mariupol, in Odessa. It is essential that these 2.2 million children receive emergency assistance. And that’s what we do. There are several thousand children who are welcome in France. There is a little every day and they are very well integrated. We can rejoice that French society and the French state welcome them as naturally as possible.

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