Our work overseas

5 ways UNICEF donors are helping Ukrainian children

After six months of brutal war in Ukraine, humanitarian aid continues to be delivered to children & families.

Caught in the crossfire of ongoing hostilities while schools, hospitals and other infrastructure they depend on continue to be destroyed - 5.2 million Ukrainian kids are still suffering from a horrific war not of their making.

Those still in Ukraine need humanitarian help more than ever, while those who've fled the fighting need support to get back some sense of normality. Since day one, UNICEF donors have stepped up and supported the innocent victims of this emergency. Not just in Ukraine but in 13 neighbouring countries. Here's how:

1. Medicine & medical equipment for hospitals caring for mothers and newborns

For many, leaving Ukraine for the safety of neighbouring countries was not an option. For instance, expectant mothers were having to stay and seek shelter until it was time to give birth.

Almost 4 million women and children have accessed healthcare in UNICEF-supported facilities since the start of the war. This situation has continued to develop, with the number surpassing what was originally expected – which is why we need to keep delivering supplies to hospitals and other medical facilities so none of these women or children go without life-saving essentials.

2. Mental health support through psychologists, social workers and mobile child protection teams

Imagine what it would be like for a child to have to hug their parents as bombs shook the underground bunker they'd sheltered in. Or what it would be like to leave everything you ever knew under fire and start a whole new life in another country. This has been the reality for many children. At a time when kids should just be kids, they’ve instead endured trauma and loss – scars that are far less visible but just as harmful.

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2022

12-year-old Nastya is ecstatic to regain some sense of normalcy and fun as she plays with the other children taking part in a psychological support group run by UNICEF’s ‘PORUCH’ project. Trained psychologists lead these groups to help war-affected kids and teens work through their fears and find new ways to cope.

With the amazing support of UNICEF donors, over 1.4 million children and caregivers from Ukraine have been able to access mental health and psychosocial support. Psychologists and specialists have helped others deal with trauma, current challenges, while also bringing people together in communities to support one another.

3. Education hubs and online learning

Like children anywhere, kids in Ukraine should be enjoying school. Sadly lots are missing out. At least one in six UNICEF-supported ‘Safe Schools’ in eastern Ukraine has been damaged or destroyed since the start of the war. Across the country, schools continue to come under fire.

UNICEF/UN0664602/Pantaz
UNICEF/UN0664602/Pantaz

Sasha dreams of being an actress and making TikTok videos.

To ensure that kids are able to continue with their education, over 400,000 children inside Ukraine and 600,000 refugee children have accessed formal or non-formal education, including early childhood learning. Refugee children have also been carefully reintegrated into schools to help them adapt to their new lives.

4. Safe water & hygiene kits

Destruction and devastation to important infrastructure systems has left millions without vital access to clean water. Without it, children are at real risk of illness and malnourishment. Water is a basic need, and so we’ve helped over 3.4 million people access safe water for drinking and basic household needs. In addition to this, UNICEF has also been delivering sanitation, hygiene, & dignity kits to families who have been displaced. For those travelling for long periods, these kits are a welcome sight and a small way to feel more comfortable.

©UNICEF/UN0663675/Pashkina
©UNICEF/UN0663675/Pashkina

The Pyvovar family unpacks the Immediate Response WASH & Dignity kits they received from UNICEF. It includes water purifying tablets, blankets, toilet paper, a child potty, sanitary pads, underwear and other vital necessities for emergency situations.

5. Safe spaces for refugee children and families

No child expects to be torn away from everything they've ever known - and then have to seek safety in another country.

Listen to Rasha’s heartbreaking story below, who had to flee not just one – but two – wars during her childhood.

It's so important for kids to feel safe in a place where play, learning and friendships can be fostered. And so UNICEF has been establishing safe spaces across Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to do just that.

Spaces like these also support parents by giving them an opportunity to look for employment, achieve financial independence, build self-esteem and a sense of community.

This includes 33 UNICEF-UNHCR Blue Dot Centres that help women and children fleeing the conflict, with urgent humanitarian aid, including clothing, blankets and safe spaces to rest.

Since the war began, Ukraine’s children have been living through a nightmare. Families have been torn apart while homes, livelihoods and dreams of the future have been destroyed. But amongst it all, there’s been good work being done to help children and families get back to living as normal a life as possible – even while the war still rages on. This work would not be possible without the support of governments, businesses, and amazing donors from all around the world – including right here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Every single donation is providing critical support for the children of Ukraine, so we’d like to say a huge thank you to our supporters.