Escalation of attacks on infrastructure leaves Ukraine’s children without sustained access to water and heating

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19 December 2023

Statement by Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia

GENEVA/KYIV, 18 December 2023 – “Yet again, as winter continues to take hold, we are witnessing an escalation of attacks on infrastructure across Ukraine, with particularly unrelenting bombardment in the east and south of the country.

“Over the past month, there has been an increase in air attacks across Ukraine with more than 900 air attacks recorded in the space of a week. Events during the past week point to a concerning trend with an increase in ballistic missiles and mass drone attacks, including widespread targeted attacks on Kyiv’s infrastructure. Last Thursday there were five nationwide air alerts recorded throughout the day.

“These attacks have caused injuries among children, sent an intensified wave of fear and dread through already deeply distressed communities, and left millions of children across Ukraine without sustained access to electricity, heating and water, exposing them to additional serious harm as temperatures plummet.

“Children and families most at risk are those who already have the least access to basic, life-depending resources to start with, and who have already endured immense hardship. These children and their families have nothing to fall back on.

“During the winter months, temperatures regularly go as low as -20°C, with bitter high winds making it feel even colder. Children simply cannot withstand these conditions without energy.

“Blackouts and power cuts make it extremely challenging for health facilities to provide critical services, another dire situation given the rise in cases of pneumonia, seasonal influenza and waterborne diseases among children across Ukraine.

“Without energy, an already fragile education system once again buckles, further disrupting learning for Ukraine’s schoolchildren.

“Around 1,800 children have been killed or injured since the escalation of the war in Ukraine. Given these are verified reports, the true number is likely higher. With the continuation of targeted attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure, we can only expect more children killed and injured.

“UNICEF is providing generators and other equipment to support the Government of Ukraine in keeping water supply, heating, health and education facilities running. In the hardest hit areas, UNICEF is providing winter clothing sets for children along with blankets for their families. We are also reaching families with cash assistance.

“To reach all children in need with immediate humanitarian assistance we need more funds. Currently, our winterization appeal has a funding gap of more than US$34 million.

“Ultimately, unless the attacks stop and the rules of war are respected, the increasing humanitarian catastrophe will continue to unfold, causing more unthinkable suffering among children and families.

“Children and the civilian infrastructure they rely on must be protected. UNICEF and our humanitarian colleagues must have rapid and unimpeded access to children and families in need of humanitarian assistance, no matter where they are.”

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