As Russia’s senseless war against Ukraine continues, women grieve as their husbands die in battle, children suffer in freezing conditions due to power outages, and civilians melt snow and ice to drink in a desperate attempt to survive. Russian soldiers continue to attack hospitals and schools where children take refuge. Showing no mercy, they attack populated urban areas, using explosive weapons to kill and maim hundreds of innocent un-armed civilians, including children. The war has driven two-thirds of Ukraine’s children from their homes.
Canadian philanthropist, Katrina Sriranpong, a UNICEF supporter, watches from afar as non-profit organizations work to provide emergency aid to Ukrainian children and humanitarian assistance. Sriranpong, a Vancouver-based former refugee lawyer and philanthropist, has long advocated for disadvantaged children and refugees from war-torn countries.
Sriranpong said, “The situation in Ukraine is by far one of the biggest child protection crises to happen in recent years.”
In a statement, Catherine Russell, UNICEF executive director, said, “The war has caused one of the fastest large-scale displacements of children since World War II.”
Russell added the grim milestone of large-scale displacements of children could have lasting consequences for generations. “Children’s safety, well-being, and access to essential services are all under threat from nonstop violence,” Russell stated.
Former refugee lawyer, Katrina Sriranpong, urges people to support the numerous non-profit organizations providing humanitarian assistance to the children of Ukraine. Sriranpong and her husband has supported various groups that provide aid to at-risk international populations such as Save the Children, War Child, and Operation Underground Railroad.
Within a month of Russia invading Ukraine, more than half of Ukraine’s innocent children were displaced. A statement by the U.N. agency communicated that 5.2 million Ukrainian children need humanitarian assistance. There are 3 million children inside the country and more than 2.2 million others in refugee-hosting countries.
Reviewing Save the Children’s most recent assessment for Ukraine found that 85% of child refugees need psychosocial support. Reports by families reveal that their children cannot sleep well, are constantly fearful, and are afraid to leave bomb shelters.
500 children were unaccompanied when crossing from Ukraine into Romania in 2022. Sriranpong states that children traveling alone are susceptible to human traffickers who force their prey into child labour and sexual exploitation. Children fleeing war by themselves in Ukraine are at heightened risk of human trafficking and exploitation.
“Human traffickers often take advantage of large-scale population movements, and the war in Ukraine is creating conditions that may cause an increase in human trafficking,” Sriranpong said.
Human trafficking during wartime is a tragic reality. Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s regional director for Europe and Central Asia, has witnessed these criminals who take advantage of a war to traffic people.
Khan said in a statement, “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.”
Katrina Sriranpong wants more people to comprehend the war’s devastating impact on children and take action. Charity Navigator compiled a list of top-rated non-profit organizations providing relief to Ukraine and the surrounding areas. The charities include UNICEF, Save the Children, Voices of Children, Doctors Without Borders, Nova Ukraine, and Sunflower of Peace. The war in Ukraine is being referred to as Vladimir Putin’s war against children. Please consider donating today to alleviate the suffering of so many innocent children.