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Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine – Global Issues

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In commemorative comments the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of AggressionDenise Brown also noted that boys and girls in frontline regions have had to spend the equivalent of €2.50 seven months underground in bomb shelters due to brutal attacks.

“I won’t stop repeating that the entire international community should never accept what is happening in Ukraine as normal. Children should not grow up in the middle of a war,” she says said.

“War is not normal, and we should not get used to it.”

Childhood dreams postponed

Ms Brown said she met many sweet, happy and smiling children during her time in Ukraine, adding that despite the large-scale Russian invasion more than two years ago, they still feel loved and protected.

She recalled a visit last Christmas to rural Hroza, located in the Kharkov region, where she shared chocolate and sweets with local children who told her about their dreams of one day becoming a doctor or teacher.

“But when I think of the children I have met, I can’t help but think of the ones I will never meet,” she said.

“In the same village, Hroza, on October 5, 2023, an eight-year-old boy was killed when a Russian missile tore his community apart. So many other children are lost while sleeping or playing.”

An ‘ugly’ truth

She emphasized that “the truth is shocking and the world must confront it,” she reported more than 600 Ukrainian children have been killed and 1,420 injuredsince the escalation of the Russian invasion in February 2022.

© UNICEF/Viktor Moskaliuk

File photo of a teenage boy being treated at a hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, after he was injured when the car he was driving ran over a landmine.

“And these are only the cases that the UN has been able to verify,” she continued. “Despite our repeated requests to gain access to Ukrainian territory temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation, in full compliance with international humanitarian law, our requests are always rejected.”

She said: “The ugly truth is that the numbers are increasing almost every day as civilian infrastructure is repeatedly hit,” she recalled attacks last week in Kharkiv which reached a shopping center, office building and park in a few minutes.

Justice must prevail

Ms Brown said Russia had approved and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, “but the truth is that they are blatantly ignoring what they have committed to. And it is for this reason that the Secretary General has officially listed Russia for killing and maiming Ukrainian children in 2023.”

She reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to support the people of Ukraine whose lives have been torn apart by war, adding that the UN consistently documents these violations and works with the Government to provide the care these children so desperately need .

“I know this will not alleviate the suffering of families and will never compensate for the lives or grief lost,” she said. “But what is happening here must be recorded so that justice can prevail.”

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