One month of war in Ukraine has led to the displacement of 4.3 million children – more than half the estimated population of 7.5 million children in the country, UNICEF said Thursday.
Among the displaced children are more than 1.8 million who crossed into neighboring countries as refugees and 2.5 million who are now internally displaced inside Ukraine, said the UN agency.
"The war has caused one of the fastest large-scale displacements of children since World War II," said Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s executive director.
"This is a grim milestone that could have lasting consequences for generations. Children's safety, well-being, and access to essential services are all under threat from non-stop horrific violence."
The UN refugee agency said that the number of people who have fled the country since Russia began the war on Feb. 24 is some 3.63 million.
UNICEF quoted the UN human rights office as saying 78 children have been killed and 105 injured in Ukraine since the start of the war.
"Yet these figures represent only those reports that the UN has been able to confirm, and the true toll is likely far higher," said UNICEF.
"In just a few weeks, the war has wrought such devastation for Ukraine's children," said Russell. "Children urgently need peace and protection. They need their rights."
Russell said UNICEF continues to appeal for an immediate cease-fire and the protection of children from harm.
"Essential infrastructure on which children depend, including hospitals, schools, and buildings sheltering civilians, must never come under attack."
The war has also had devastating consequences on civilian infrastructure and access to essential services, said UNICEF.
The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, has reported 64 attacks impacting healthcare facilities across the country over the last four weeks, while Ukraine's Education and Science Ministry has reported damage to more than 500 education facilities.
An estimated 1.4 million people now lack access to safe water, while 4.6 million people have limited access to water or are at risk of being cut off. Over 450,000 children age 6 to 23 months need complementary food support.
UNICEF has already observed a reduction in vaccination coverage for routine and childhood immunizations, including the measles and polio.
That reduction could quickly lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, especially in overcrowded areas where people are sheltering from the violence, said UNICEF.