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UNICEF: Ukraine conflict devastating children

[JURIST] UNICEF [official website] reported Friday that the Ukraine conflict has severely affected [press release] children living in the area. The constant violence and fear has resulted in one in three children suffering psychologically. The UN reported nearly a quarter billion children have been internally displaced and more than 20 percent of the schools have been destroyed. Last year, 20 children were killed and 40 injured, mostly resulting from explosives. In an effort to restore the area, UNICEF has trained teachers and psychologists to identify signs of distress and provided psychosocial support for children in need. They have also been providing the area with clean water and essential hygiene products.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has continued to be a prevalent topic ever since the Crimean Annexation [JURIST backgrounder] in March 2014. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that hostilities in eastern Ukraine have damaged [press release] or destroyed hundreds of schools, many of which were being used for military purposes. According to a detailed investigative report [text], government forces and Russia-backed militants have deployed forces in and near schools, turning the schools into legitimate military targets. The resulting destruction has either forced many children out of schools or caused schools to stop operating or to operate under overcrowded and difficult conditions. In December the UN released a report stating [press release] that "serious human rights concerns persist," in Ukraine. The conflict has often been labeled the biggest crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. US President Barack Obama has strongly condemned [JURIST report] Russia's military intervention in the region as a violation of international law.

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