The deaths of three children reported in the conflict in Ukraine shows that any war is a war against children, with fears that more innocent young lives will be lost if the fighting does not stop immediately, Save the Children said on Friday..

Two teachers were also reported killed when a missile struck a school in Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine as Russia military operations escalated, with explosions reported across major cities.A 17-year-old boy was killed in an attack on the village of Semikhatky in the southern Kherson region, and two other children were killed in shelling in eastern Ukraine, one in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Region, and the other in Mariupol, Donetsk region.

Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children’s Eastern Europe Director, said:

"We have already seen three young lives needlessly lost and we fear for all of the children of Ukraine as the situation rapidly deteriorates. Children are bearing the brunt of this crisis, and are now paying for a war not of their making with their lives.

At least 120 people have been killed in the escalating violence, according to media reports, with the UN reporting at least 25 civilian deaths and more than 100 injuries in the past 24 hours. It is highly likely that child casualties and damage to essential services like schools and hospitals will increase if fighting continues, especially in densely populated areas.

"There is no safe place in Ukraine and the situation is changing by the hour. All of the 7.5 million children in Ukraine are in grave danger of physical harm, severe emotional distress, and displacement.

"Children have already lived through eight years of conflict, enduring violence, shelling, and being displaced from their homes. Enough is enough. Any war is a war against children. Every effort must be made to urgently find a diplomatic solution and protect children from harm."

Save the Children is calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, as this is the only way to protect children from violence and other violations of their rights.

While fighting is ongoing, constant care must be taken to spare civilians and civilian objects, including schools and hospitals, which are protected under International Humanitarian Law. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas risks severe harm to civilians, with unique risks to children, and should be avoided.

Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, delivering essential humanitarian aid to children and their families. This includes supporting their access to education, providing psychosocial support, distributing winter kits and hygiene kits, and providing cash grants to families so they can meet basic needs such as food, rent and medicines, or so they can invest in starting new businesses.