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UNICEF Estimates 1.5 Million Children Have Fled Ukraine Since Russia Invaded

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According to UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s agency, about 1.5 million children have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began and are at risk of trafficking.

“Countless others” are displaced within the country as the war continues, the agency said in a news release on Saturday.

“The war in Ukraine is creating massive displacement and refugee flows, setting the stage for a spike in human trafficking and a crisis of child protection,” said UNICEF’s regional director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan.

“Displaced children are extremely vulnerable to being separated from their families, exploited and trafficked,” Khan explained. “Governments in the region need to step up and put measures in place to protect them.”

Between Feb. 24 and March 7, UNICEF reported identifying more than 500 unaccompanied children crossing into Romania from Ukraine. “The overall number of unaccompanied children spilling over neighboring borders is likely much higher,” the statement continued.

For increased protection, the UN and civil society partners have established “Blue Dots” in neighboring countries such as Poland, which provide essential services to families.

UNICEF also urges Ukraine’s neighbors to enhance child protection screenings at the borders and at key places, such as train stations, where refugees pass through.

“UNICEF continues to urge governments to strengthen cross-border collaboration and knowledge exchange between and among border control, law enforcement, and child protection authorities, as well as implement family tracing and reunification procedures for children deprived of parental care,” according to the statement.

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