UNITED NATIONS — Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes in the six weeks since Russia’s invasion and the United Nations has verified the deaths of 142 youngsters although the number is almost certainly much higher, the U.N. children’s agency said Monday.
Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s emergency programs director who just returned from Ukraine, said having 4.8 million of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children displaced in such a short time is something he hadn’t seen happen so quickly in 31 years of humanitarian work.
Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, claimed Russia has taken more than 121,000 children out of Ukraine and reportedly drafted a bill to simplify and accelerate adoption procedures for orphans and even those who have parents and other relatives.
Most of the children were removed from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol and taken to eastern Donetsk and then to the Russian city of Taganrog, according to Kyslytsya.
Fontaine said that of Ukraine’s refugee children, 2.8 million are displaced within Ukraine and 2 million more are in other countries.