Nearly 100 days of the war in Ukraine have devastated children at a scale and speed unseen since World War II, and on average over two children are killed a day, the UN said Wednesday.
"Based on reports verified by Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on average more than two children are killed and more than four injured each day in Ukraine -- mostly in attacks using explosive weapons in populated areas," according to UNICEF.
In its latest official death toll on Tuesday, the human rights office said at least 262 children have been killed and 415 injured in Ukraine's fighting, but it "believes that the actual figures are considerably higher."
Some 3 million children inside Ukraine and over 2.2 million children in refugee-hosting countries are now in need of humanitarian assistance since Russia launched its war on its neighboring country on Feb. 24, said the UN.
Almost two out of every three children in Ukraine have been displaced due to the war in the country.
The civilian infrastructure that the children depend on -- including at least 256 health facilities and one in six UNICEF-supported "safe schools" in the east -- is continually damaged or destroyed.
Hundreds of other schools across the country have also been damaged.
Conditions for children in eastern and southern Ukraine where the fighting has intensified are increasingly desperate, the UNICEF noted.
"June 1 is International Day for the Protection of Children in Ukraine and across the region," said Catherine Russell, the UNICEF executive director.
"Instead of celebrating the occasion, we are solemnly approaching Jun. 3 -- the 100th day of a war that has shattered the lives of millions of children."
Russell said that without an urgent cease-fire and negotiated peace, children will continue to suffer -- and fallout from the war will impact vulnerable children worldwide.
The war has caused an acute child protection crisis, said UNICEF.
"Children fleeing violence are at significant risk of family separation, violence, abuse, sexual exploitation, and trafficking," said the UN agency.
"Most have been exposed to deeply traumatic events."
Children fleeing the war urgently need safety, stability, child protection services, and psychosocial support, especially those unaccompanied or separated from their families.
"More than anything, they need peace," said the UN agency.
"UNICEF continues to call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and protect all children from harm," Russell said.
"This includes ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and attacks on civilian infrastructure. UNICEF is appealing for full humanitarian access to reach children safely and quickly in need wherever they may be."
The war and mass displacements are devastating livelihoods and economic opportunities, leaving many families without sufficient income to meet basic needs and unable to provide adequate support for their children.
"Twenty-five UNICEF-UNHCR (UN refugee agency) Blue Dots -- one-stop safe havens that provide support and services for families on the move, have been established along major transit routes in Moldova, Romania, Poland, Italy, Bulgaria, and Slovakia," said the UN agency.
In Moldova, more than 52,000 refugees, mostly in female-headed households, have been reached through a UNICEF-UNHCR multi-purpose cash assistance program, the UN also said.