The Shocking Ravages of War on Children: Tales from Ukraine

Effects of Ukrainian war on children

Thousands of children from Ukraine have become refugees since Russia invaded their country on February 24. These children gave their testimonies about the horrors of war while being calmly descriptive without filtering their emotions. 

Catherine Russell, who is the UNICEF chief, stated, “The war has caused one of the fastest large-scale displacements of children since World War Two.” This included approximately 1.8 million who had crossed borders as refugees and 2.5 million more who were displaced internally.

As per the UN human rights office reports, 78 children had been killed in the war, while 205 had been severely injured in Ukraine since February 24. These figures include the ones confirmed by the UN, and the actual numbers might be relatively higher.

“This is a grim milestone that could have lasting consequences for generations to come,” Ms. Russell warned.

The Children’s View On This War In Ukraine

RFE/RL interviewed many Ukrainian refugee children in Lithuania and Poland from March 2 to 8. These children spoke about their experiences and even reflected on politics, where one remarked that the Russian President was perhaps “neglected as a child.”

Danylo Felde began by speaking about how bombs were flying by his house.

Eva Pryadko added that one should find a safe place to hide so that the shattered glass would not hit them. She said they should put on their jackets so that the shards would hit the jackets and not them.

“There was heavy shelling. Our house could have been hit. It could catch fire, so we had to run. If they shoot the windows, you should [find a safe place] and squat.” she added. Her grandmother advised them to go to Lithuania, so they did what she said and went there. There was nothing to do there but sit still and watch the shelling.

Sofia Ovseyenko gave a detailed description of her horrifying experience. “I opened my eyes, seeing [unexploded] shell and a dead woman. Her boot was lying on the ground. When I opened my eyes, I saw [what I thought was] a pig’s thigh flying by.”

“A shell landed 3 or 4 meters away from me as I ran toward my mother. There was heavy shelling in our area. Thank God that the shells that [landed near] us didn’t explode. Half of our house would have been gone; I’d have been gone, and my mother would have been gone. I think Dad and the other kids would have survived,” she shared.

She added: “I thought a meat factory was bombed, but then I realized there was nothing like that around. I realized it was human, and I freaked out and panicked. I looked at my pants, jacket, and face: I was all covered with human flesh, cartilage, and blood. It’s horrible.”

Another victim, Yaroslav Chyzh, stated how there were several explosions in the city. The Russians were not bombing military positions but residential areas. “[The Russian military] feels at home here. There are sir strikes all the time. You come back home, and 10 minutes later, there’s another jet coming. They come, bomb, refuel, and an hour later, return with bombs,” he added.

Eva added how there was nowhere to return to. There were no towns or schools left. Darya Avdeyeva, who was in Przemysl, stated how Putin lied about the military operation – it was a war. The war was evil and was causing everyone a hard time. Eva also added: “And that old man is stupid because he didn’t know you can’t invade Ukraine.” She asked why he was still the President and should not start a war every day. 

All these innocent children had something to say about the Russian President. One spoke about how he dreamt about controlling the whole world. Another added: “Maybe [Putin] was neglected as a child. We didn’t do anything bad to Russia. I don’t understand why Belarus is with Russia; we didn’t do anything to them. But our army is powerful.”

These children are innocent and are now suffering because of something they had not participated in. They still believed that their country would defeat its opposition and that good was more robust than evil.

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