An estimated 1 million children need humanitarian aid as fighting persists in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian rebels, the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Friday.
That is nearly double the number of children in need a year ago, according to UNICEF, which said one in five of the more than 740 schools in eastern Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed in the conflict.
At least 33 people, including civilians, were killed and several dozen injured in fighting earlier this month in eastern Ukraine — the worst violence in the region since 2015, the Associated Press reported.
The death toll in the fighting that started in April 2014 has now reached more than 9,800, according to the U.N., the AP reported.
“This is an invisible emergency — a crisis most of the world has forgotten,” Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, said. “Children in eastern Ukraine have been living under the constant threat of unpredictable fighting and shelling for the past three years. Their schools have been destroyed, they have been forced from their homes and their access to basic commodities like heat and water has been cut off.”
UNICEF has asked the United States for $31.3 million for health and nutrition, education, clean water, hygiene and sanitation as well as protection. So far, about 10% of the appeal has been funded, UNICEF said.