“Half of the Ukrainians who have crossed the borders are children”, Ann Avril, Unicef director general, explains on Tuesday 4 May on franceinfo. In your opinion, “It is almost a child every second, for two months, who has crossed the borders of his country”. Invite neighboring countries to welcome these children “in the best possible conditions” it’s at “continue the momentum of solidarity”.
>> Watch our live stream on the war in Ukraine.
franceinfo: Dozens of people arrived in Zaporijjia, a city still under the control of the Ukrainian authorities, after being evacuated from Mariupol where they had taken refuge for weeks in the Azovstal factory. Among them the children. How to take care of them?
Anna April: These children are very traumatized. They need two things. They need to be secured, sheltered from bombs, and they need material security that must be provided to them as a matter of urgency. This is what we do in Unicef with all the humanitarian organizations that are present on the spot. For the moment it is possible to repair them with humanitarian corridors. It is still uncertain. It involves a few dozen children. But above all it is absolutely important that we can quickly overcome this trauma by putting them in safety, offering them care, food, water, access to hygiene. These are foundations for all of us, but of which they have been totally deprived for several weeks.
In April, more than 7,700,000 Ukrainians had to flee their homes and more than five and a half million who fled their country. Among all these people, how many children are there?
About half of the Ukrainians who have crossed the borders are children. In other words, it is almost a child every second who, for two months, has crossed the borders of his own country. Leaving without knowing when they might return, often with a mother or grandparents. It is absolutely essential that we, neighboring countries, speak of Europe in general, can welcome them in the best possible conditions. In Unicef we have prepared provisions 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 say, making donations, continuing the support that everyone can give to Ukrainian children. Every gesture counts. A donation of 20 euros or 50 euros is important and materially translates into actions for Unicef and for the Unicef partners.
Are there children who have fled their home, their region without their parents?
The issue of unaccompanied minors is very important. They are even more vulnerable than other children and it is very important that they are addressed to the authorities of the countries that will host them so that they are cared for in reception facilities dedicated to these children. They are particularly vulnerable to trafficking problems, which are quite common in this type of situation.
How do you distribute the reception of these children?
The priority for the children of Ukraine is peace. These children don’t deserve what happened. Unicef will alleviate the effects of the war, but we will not stop it. 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 in Ukraine are in danger, meaning that they need humanitarian assistance, relief, basic care to survive and are therefore immediately in danger. There are hundreds of them, probably still in Mariupol, Odessa. It is essential that these 2.2 million children have access to emergency aid. And that’s what we do. There are several thousand children who are welcomed in France. There are a little more of them every day and they are very well integrated. We can rejoice that French society and the French state welcome them as normally as possible.