Millions of children in and around Ukraine are at risk of hypothermia, hunger and even death, as temperatures could plummet to -20C degrees this weekend.

The past week has seen an extreme Arctic cold blast strike Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, where the current conflict entered its third week, forcing millions from their homes.

At least one million children have now fled Ukraine, and millions more are displaced within the country.

Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children’s Eastern Europe Director, says: " As temperatures plummet, children who have been forced from their homes are trekking through the brutal cold, with high winds and snow, carrying whatever they could grab before they fled. At night they are sheltering wherever they can, often exposed to the harshest of elements. Some of these children are completely alone.

"For those staying put as the conflict escalates around them, there is already not enough food to eat, enough clothes to keep them warm, or resources to repair and heat their homes.

"These are incredibly dangerous conditions for a child to be exposed to. Newborn babies and small children are at particular risk of getting very cold very quickly and of hypothermia, as they are still developing and less able to regulate their body temperatures. 

"This is before we even begin to think about the mental anguish children will already be going through trying to process what has happened to them over the past two weeks. We must see an immediate end to the violence - it is the only way to protect children."

Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, providing humanitarian aid to children and their families. This includes supporting access to education, distributing winter and hygiene kits, and providing cash grants to families. Our specialists support children to overcome the mental and psychological impacts of their experiences of conflict and violence and increase their ability to cope with stress in their daily lives.

In New Zealand, Save the Children has raised more than $350,000 for the children of Ukraine impacted by the crisis.