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The Children of Ukraine's war

Yunus Emre Caylak | Ukraine

Children walk by the white sands that were put by the Territorial Defence units in the streets of Dnipro, Ukraine. Feb, 2022.

In Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia children’s hospital, Milena, 13, lies writhing in pain in a hospital bed as doctors battle to save her life – she was shot in the neck by Russian soldiers as her family tried to flee to safety from the besieged city of Mariupol. To her side, Vladislav, 5, is kept alive by a machine. Doctors say the bullet wounds in his stomach may be too severe for him to make it.    

Thousands of schools are damaged or closed, while children are deeply traumatised by the violence all around them and the conditions they have been forced to live in. In Kharkiv, desperate families found shelter from endless bombardment by sleeping on the cold floor of a metro station. In Donbas, children live underground without gas or electricity, coming out in the gaps between shelling to play in the rubble of their homes. With no end to the conflict in sight, the long-term future for the youngest victims of Russia’s war remains unknown.

My work has documented the devastating impact of war on civilian populations in areas across Ukraine since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022. Children are bearing the brunt of this conflict amid indiscriminate violence. According to Unicef, almost 1,000 children were killed or injured during the first six months of the conflict, while 7.1 million Ukrainians – many of them women and children – have been forced to flee to Europe, tearing families apart.

emrecaylakphoto@gmail.com

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