Ukraine-Russia war: everything you need to know.

ukrainian children

The crisis between Ukraine and Russia that we are witnessing in recent weeks did not break out suddenly but derives from an ongoing conflict between the two countries which began in February 2014.


The Russo-Ukrainian conflict centres on the status of Crimea and Donbas. Since the beginning of the armed conflict and until the end of 2021, the situation in the area has not undergone any particular changes.

All those who have lived along the approximately 427 km long “line of contact”, which divides the area under government control and the part that remains outside it, have paid a heavy price on their lives, with a dramatic impact both from a socio-economic and safety point of view.

An impact that has severely affected children forced to live in a constant state of conflict, which quickly led to a lack of access to services, significant signs of emotional distress and the impossibility of accessing safe education and quality. The situation has further worsened with the arrival of the pandemic, adding further pressure on the already very tired population.


The outbreak of a new crisis between the two countries dates back to the end of 2021. In November last year, tensions suddenly rose, with Russia sending 100,000 troops to the border area. In agreement with the USA and NATO, the Ukrainian government has raised the alarm level for a possible imminent attack by Moscow.

Talks followed between Russia, the USA and NATO, from which Ukraine was effectively excluded. Russia has made demands for guarantees limiting NATO actions in the region, including a ban on further enlargement, the withdrawal of forces from countries that joined the Alliance after 1997 (a bloc of countries that includes much of Eastern Europe, from the Baltic countries to the Balkans). These requests were deemed unacceptable for the countries involved, with the risk of a failure of the diplomatic process.

The dangers for civilians living along the “line of contact” are growing by the hour, and numerous ceasefire violations have been reported since the beginning of the year.

For information for those leaving Ukraine for Italy, read the article with ten questions and answers (in Italian, Ukrainian and English).


Last year, over 7.5 million minors in Ukraine were in grave danger of physical harm, severe psychological distress and displacement following the escalation of hostilities in the early morning hours. In eastern Ukraine, more than 400,000 children lived in areas at high risk of the direct impacts of soldiers and artillery, including being injured or killed by guns, mines and explosive weapons or displaced from their homes.

All girls and boys living in Ukraine, about 7.5 million under 18, are exposed to the risk of physical harm, significant psychological repercussions and displacement.

Those forced to flee did so with very few possessions and the great difficulty of finding a new job in the places of arrival. Since 24 February 2022, more than 18 million refugees have been forced to flee Ukraine and their homes. Another 5.3 million people (IDPs) are internally displaced within Ukraine.

Most families have sought refuge with friends or relatives; others have had to find temporary accommodation, such as in shelters. After a year of war in Ukraine, the humanitarian consequences are increasingly dramatic. Since the escalation of the conflict, 17,023 civilians have been affected, including 6,655 civilians killed, 851 children injured, and 438 children killed.

Every day, girls and boys in Ukraine are in danger and exposed to serious violations. We work daily to provide girls and boys living in conflict zones with immediate and long-term support to rebuild their lives. On the eve of the first anniversary of the conflict in Ukraine, we are launching the Children Under Attack campaign for governments and international organizations to prioritise protecting children and their well-being.


Through the Children Under Attack campaign, we call for war crimes against children to be prosecuted and those responsible brought to justice.


According to the United Nations, 17.7 people in Ukraine urgently need humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs, such as access to food, clean water and blankets to keep warm. To bring them relief, we need your help. Donate now.

We urgently call on all parties to the conflict to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities to reduce the risk to the lives and well-being of boys and girls. While hostilities are ongoing, all actors must respect international humanitarian law, ensuring that civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, are protected from attack.

To learn more about the theme of conflicts, read the article: “ What is meant by conflicts and what are the evolutions to date “.

What are we doing

We have been working with our programs in Ukraine since 2014, supporting the population through essential humanitarian interventions for children and families affected by the conflict. To help keep Ukrainian families warm this winter, together with local partners, we are providing displaced families with shelter, food, cash, fuel, psychological support and baby hygiene kits. In active fighting areas, we distribute children’s winter clothing, providing war-affected families with blankets, stoves and fuel.

In Ukraine, we are adapting our response with medium-long-term interventions, with a particular focus on the health, nutrition and education of minors: we have set up 17 Community Centers and Child-Friendly Spaces where our operators provide daily sessions psychosocial support for children to help them cope with the traumas they are experiencing. In hospitals, we train staff, supply medicines and offer technical support with a specific focus on pre-and post-natal care.

We also work in Romania, Poland and Lithuania to reunite boys and girls with family and friends in neighbouring countries, to establish child protection systems and help refugees by providing non-food relief items and other outreach services.

Our response in Italy in a year of war

In Italy, the arrival of people fleeing continue, albeit with a smaller influx than in the first few months. The latest data from the Ministry of the Interior, dated 13 January 2023, indicates that to date, 173,645 people are fleeing the conflict in Ukraine who have arrived in Italy. In this article, you can learn more about the topic, One year of war in Ukraine: aid for children and families.

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