In 2014 war broke out in the Ukraine, resulting in nearly 8,000 deaths so far, and 2.5 million people displaced. Eight-year-old Maxim lost his father to sniper fire in the war-torn region of eastern Ukraine. His family was forced to flee their home in Luhansk, and move to Slovyansk two years ago.
When actor Orlando Bloom visited the region recently as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, Maxim’s mother told him that her son is still scared of loud noises, and has to go to therapy.
“When the conflict was at its peak. We were hiding and of course my son saw and heard everything as the artillery was right near our house,” she said.
“When we came here for a long time he was afraid of thunder, elevators or a trolly bus.”
Maxim is one of 300,000 children who are in immediate need of assistance to continue their education in the region. Since the conflict broke out more than 2 years ago, more than 230,000 children have been forced from their homes and one in five schools in the region have been damaged or destroyed.
Bloom visited classrooms hit by shells just three kilometers from the front-line of the conflict to raise awareness of the global education crisis facing children in emergencies like this one.
New findings show that nearly a quarter of the world’s school-aged children – 462 million – now live in countries affected by crisis. In Syria more than 6000 schools are out of use, in North-East Nigeria and Cameroon more than 1,800 schools have been shut due to the crisis there and in the Central African Republic a quarter of schools are not functioning.
UNICEF have launched a new program called Education Cannot Wait, to provide continuing education for children like Maxim in emergency situations.
“Education changes lives in emergencies,” said Josephine Bourne, UNICEF’s Global Chief of Education.
“Going to school keeps children safe from abuses like trafficking and recruitment into armed groups and is a vital investment in children’s futures and in the future of their communities,” he said.
“Education is providing children in eastern Ukraine with the building blocks to rebuild their lives in a safe and supportive environment."
Cover Photo © UNICEF/Georgiev