Geneva: The conflict in Ukraine, now in its second week, is exacting a harrowing toll on children, UNICEF has warned.
"The use of explosive weapons in cities could quickly turn this crisis into a catastrophe for Ukraine’s children," said Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, in a press release on Thursday.
"There are no armed operations of this scale that do not result in children being harmed. The consequences will be tragic," Khan added.
Since February 24, 17 children have been killed and 30 have been injured.
These are only the reports that the United Nations (UN) has been able to verify – the true number of child casualties is likely far higher.
The conflict has also sparked massive population displacement that could soon constitute one of Europe’s largest refugee crises since the Second World War.
Half a million children have already fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries, with the number of refugees continuing to grow.
Hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed, and there are reports of schools, orphanages and health centres sustaining heavy damage.
"UNICEF is on the ground, doing its best to meet children’s basic needs, but the only way out of the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is for the conflict to end," said Khan.