UN alarmed over plight of children in Ukraine

2015-03-14 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The United Nations has expressed alarm over the impact of Ukraine's ongoing conflict on children, amid ongoing concerns over a fragile ceasefire and fresh revelations about the downing of a passenger plane last year. 

The UN's children's fund UNICEF says at least 1.7 million children on both sides of Ukraine's front lines are suffering. Minors have been harmed due to a lack of proper shelter, nutrition, medicine or schooling. 

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:

They also suffer from trauma, says Tatiana Belash, a resident of the Popasna.

"How can a little child react when windows are being shattered by explosions?  At the slightest sound of shots she runs to me scared saying: 'Mum people are shooting!'," said the mother, who is currently living in a bomb shelter.   

Shell-shocked orphans in war-torn eastern Ukraine have suffered two tragedies: first, they were orphaned or abandoned by their parents. Then, they were abandoned by their foster parents when the Ukrainian government stopped paying benefits to foster families in areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists.        

PARENTS DIE

The parents of Seryozha died of tuberculosis, an illness that has spread throughout Ukraine. He was shot before the war with an air-powered pistol. A Ukrainian bureaucratic oversight separated the boy from his siblings. 

Nobody remembered that Seryozha was recovering of tuberculosis in a hospital. He now lives in an orphanage in rebel-controlled Khartsyzk. 

Yet, he is ready to forgive. He said he would play with children from the other side if "they behave and don't fight.” 

The NATO military alliance is concerned about obstacles in the way of cease-fire monitors and open questions about where the heavy weapons are going.

Villagers have told international reporters that they saw a missile fired from pro-Russian rebel-controlled territory that hit the Malaysian Airlines plane on July 17, killing 298 people. 

Yet, for the children, peace cannot come soon enough.  

(from Vatican Radio)