by Khalisah Adriana Winsley Muhammad
“After four years of conflict, more than 400,000 girls and boys continue to live and go to school while in danger. The psychological toll of the fighting – from sleepless nights due to the sound of incessant shelling, to the stress of knowing school buildings and buses are in the line of fire—has been devastating.”—UNICEF
Many children have died in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, and many children have been injured, according to official figures shared with Time magazine. Many of the wounded children were brought to Okhmatdyt-Children’s Hospital in the capital, Kyiv, to be cared for.
Many schools in eastern Ukraine have been shut down. This has led to around 350,000 children without education. Even since 2014 when the conflict in eastern Ukraine started, 750 schools have been shut down. A kindergarten and orphanage were also affected during the attack on the city of Okhtyrka leaving a seven-year-old dead. There are 7.5 million children in Ukraine.
Many students have to run home from school. This is a real report from a 16-year-old boy in Ukraine, “We had to run home like we always have [to] when they shoot,” Sergey said. “I like to play outside, but I never know if someone will shoot me dead.” (Ukraine’s Kids are Literally on the Front Line by Sara Cincurova.)
This war is affecting kids’ day-to-day lives, including school.
“War has been going on for ages between Ukraine and Russia, but I’ve never experienced something this bad,” said Amy, a 13-year-old girl who lived in Ukraine. “When I saw my school since it was canceled, there were bullet-holes in the windows, papers on the floor, wood from the ceiling on the floor, broken glass on the floor, and other random things everywhere. I couldn’t identify any emotions I was feeling. It was a mix of fear, sadness, and every bad emotion.” Amy and her family left their home in Ukraine to go to Romania for safety.
In the three days after the invasion began, more than 115,000 people crossed into Poland alone—some people traveled for more than two days. The people who are fleeing are women and children from as young as four days old to as old as 18 years old. Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are being told to stay and fight—and many are separated from their families. This has been very hard on the children because they are having to leave behind brothers and fathers knowing they might not see each other again.
Many people are being affected by this war. Children are in danger by simply going to school. Stopping this war is key for the safety of children and others in Ukraine.
Writer Khalisah Adriana Winsley Muhammad, an 11-year-old, 6th grade student, is based in Chicago.