All the children in Ukraine – at least 7.5 million under 18-year-olds - are in grave danger of physical harm, severe emotional distress, and displacement, following an escalation in hostilities overnight, says Save the Children.

Explosions have been heard in the capital Kyiv and other major cities such as Kharkiv, forcing children and families into basements and bomb shelters. Parents are reporting that they are trying to calm terrified children. Thousands of others are fleeing the capital, mostly by car. Temperatures in the capital are dropping below freezing, and displaced children may face long nights and days exposed to brutal conditions.

Our most immediate concern is the risk to their health and wellbeing – in conflict, everything is on the table – death, injury, sexual violence, protection risks. Children are terrified. They are hearing explosions; they are being asked to flee with just the clothes on their backs. The risk to their mental health and potential for long-term trauma cannot be underestimated.

Irina Saghoyan Save the Children's Eastern Europe Director

In Eastern Ukraine, more than 400,000 children live in the areas at high risk of the direct impacts caused by the presence of soldiers and artillery, including being injured or killed by guns, landmines, and explosive weapons, or being displaced from their homes. At least 100,000 of these children and their families are already known to have left their homes since Monday, and are currently sheltering with friends, relatives, and strangers, often in cramped conditions.

While hostilities are ongoing, all actors must adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law, ensuring that civilians and civilian objects, especially schools and hospitals, are protected from attack. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas risks severe harm to civilians, especially children, and should be avoided at all costs.

Every family that is displaced from their home needs help in the form of shelter, food and clean water – the basic necessities.

Irina Saghoyan Save the Children's Eastern Europe Director

Save the Children is in the Ukraine

Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, delivering essential humanitarian aid to children and their families. This includes supporting their access to education, providing psychosocial support, distributing winter kits and hygiene kits, and providing cash grants to families so they can meet basic needs such as food, rent and medicines, or so they can invest in starting new businesses.