Over 1.5M children have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24: UNICEF

A Ukrainian refugees child reacts as he boards a bus after arriving at Hendaye train station, southwestern France
Associated Press/Bob Edme

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Saturday announced that more than 1.5 million children have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.

The agency warned that the high number of child refugees comes with an increased risk of trafficking as traffickers look to take advantage of chaotic situations such as this.

The risk becomes greater as more than 500 children were found fleeing the country alone without a guardian, although the true number of unaccompanied children is likely higher. 

Children are an even bigger target during the Ukraine crisis as many of the refugees who have fled are women and children since most men are not allowed to leave the country due to martial law. 

“The war in Ukraine is leading to massive displacement and refugee flows — conditions that could lead to a significant spike in human trafficking and an acute child protection crisis,” Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, said. “Displaced children are extremely vulnerable to being separated from their families, exploited, and trafficked. They need governments in the region to step up and put measures in place to keep them safe.”

“Children fleeing the war in Ukraine need to be screened for their vulnerability as they cross into a neighboring country,” Khan added. “Every effort should be made to strengthen screening processes at refugee border crossings.”  

UNICEF is encouraging countries and organizations to set up ​​“Blue Dot” areas that could assist women and unaccompanied children to provide them information or get them the essential services they need. 

Poland already has 34 of the areas, as the country has taken in many Ukrainian refugees. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the largest migration crisis in Europe since World War II.

Tags Aftermath of war European migrant crisis Human trafficking Refugee children Ukrainian refugee crisis

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