Today the The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine, tweeted the below statistics. Civilian deaths and casualties in eastern Ukraine.
From Jan to Nov 2017 – 539 conflict-affected civilian casualties:
95 killed and 444 injured, among them 40 children.
Between Jan & Aug 2017 – 103 civilian men, women and children were killed or injured in mine-related incidents.
Adding to the grim total, last night the OSCE reported on horrendous injuries sustained by three young children. On 6th February, a boy aged 10, his sister aged 14 and female cousin aged 3, sustained shrapnel injuries due to the explosion of unexploded ordnance (UXO) while at their house in Krasnohorivka (government-controlled, 21 km west of Donetsk) on 6 February. The three-year-old girl was in critical condition after having sustained shrapnel injuries and the boy had sustained shrapnel injuries to his abdomen and lost four fingers on his left hand.
This four year long conflict has seen hundreds of thousands of shells, bullets and bombs fired, with the inevitable result being large volumes of UXO left lying around. Add to the mix, the presence of military forces from both sides, then the opportunity for live munitions to be dropped, or left behind in abandoned military positions, is all too real.
An example of the extreme dangers for children living on and near Ukraine’s front line, can be found in 14 year old Aleksey Agapin. From Vozdvyzhenka, Donetsk Oblast (province), on 28th November 2017, he lost a thumb and two fingers when a grenade plug he found exploded in his hand.
“It was in summer, I was going to the pond with my friends to swim there. As we were walking there was a convoy of military passing and something fell off one of the cars. I wasn’t sure what that thing was, it looked like it could be a pen.” Aleksey says. “I picked it up and touched it when it exploded in my hands. My first feeling was shock and pain. I looked down and saw the fingers were hanging from my hand.”
“My whole life has changed,” continues Aleksey, “I can’t do everything I could do before without my fingers, but I’m getting used to it. It’s still hard to do some things. I can’t chop the wood, it’s hard to tie the fishing line, and it’s hard to set the traps to catch animals. Sometimes I’m getting upset up until the moment when I break into tears.”
“There’s a game we play at school,” Aleksey says quietly “you have to do everything with your right hand in it, and I just couldn’t, so I felt like starting to cry. I’m learning how to write with my left hand, it’s not very good yet, but I’m trying.”
UNICEF website story about Aleksey and below video.