Bunker kits provide lifeline for families sheltering in Ukraine

Children sheltering for their lives inside bomb shelters in Ukraine are running low on critical supplies and have little opportunity to play, with Save the Children delivering bunker kits to support vulnerable families.

The war in Ukraine has killed or injured at least 559 children since 24 February, with many children and parents too scared to go outside in areas with active fighting. More than 11 million people are believed to have fled their homes since the start of the conflict, including more than two-thirds of the country’s children.In parts of Ukraine, thousands of children remain trapped underground in metro stations, school basements and other forms of bunkers while violence, shelling and bombing continues.

Save the Children is working with local partner Pomagaem to alleviate supply shortages and ensure children sheltering in bunkers can still be kids. The bunker kits contain toys, games and arts and crafts to promote play and learning. The kits also include mental health activities to help children manage their stress and find ways to communicate how they are feeling.

The bunker kits will be delivered with food, blankets, warm clothes, water, medicine and other lifesaving essential goods in areas with active fighting and anticipating violence.

Pete Walsh, Save the Children Ukraine Country Director, said:

"Can you imagine being a child trapped in a bunker for weeks at a time while fighting and indirect fire from missiles and artillery continues outside?

"Bunkers offer limited lighting, no outside play areas, little food and water, and poor access to online learning - all of which are essential to a child’s wellbeing. These conditions can lead to significant physical and psychological harm to children.

"All children have rights to play, learn and be protected from violence - these rights don’t end just because there is a war. These bunker kits will not replace what childhood should be, but they offer tools for children and their caregivers to maintain their psychological wellbeing under extreme adversity."

Save the Children is also delivering more than 60,000 trauma kits with partner Crown Agents to the Ministry of Health for distribution to hospitals and other first responders. The trauma kits contain supplies used to control bleeding and treat injuries sustained in emergencies, and include scissors, gauze, tourniquets and other essential first aid items.

Children are at greater risk from injuries in conflict zones than adults due to their specific vulnerabilities, and need to be treated differently. Children have weaker necks and torsos than adults, and in warzones head injuries are common in young children, with patients under seven years old twice as likely to present a head injury than those aged over seven.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Health has named trauma kits as one of its most critical needs to treat rising numbers of casualties.

Save the Children is calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities as the only way to protect children from violence and other violations of their rights. The aid agency condemns attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, and the use of ballistic missiles and other inaccurate explosive weapons, which are causing civilian casualties, and violate international humanitarian law.

Save the Children is working through local partners in Ukraine to provide shelter, food, cash, fuel, psychosocial support, baby, and hygiene kits to displaced families. Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, delivering essential humanitarian aid to children and their families.