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Ukraine war has lasted six months, yet despite the air raid sirens, life goes on and the kids don’t give up

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Stop reading this article, please. No words can truly capture the story of children’s suffering in Ukraine. To understand the intensity of suffering that children are going through, feel the story through the eyes and experiences of a child. Consider a short exercise.

Set your alarm for four random timings between 11 pm and 5 am. Wake up every time alarms go off, and dash to a predesignated place in your house – ideally, a basement if you have one.

Some air raid sirens are followed by military strikes on civilian targets, apartments, and shopping centers. I learned during a recent visit to Kyiv that how you react to air raid sirens often makes the difference between life and death. Air raid sirens were on and off throughout my three-week-long stay in Kyiv, Chernihiv, and L’viv. This time, alarms went off in the early hours (on June 26), and we were in the bomb shelter instantly. A few minutes later, news reports indicated that up to four explosions shook a residential area in central Kyiv, near the hotel where I was staying with my team from Plan International, which was obliterated, killing one and wounding six.

More than 11,000 civilian casualties have been reported from inside Ukraine. This includes more than 300 children. According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, as of June 24, 1,849 educational facilities have been damaged amid ongoing hostilities, and 212 have been destroyed. There are no clear reports available about civilian casualties amongst Russians. With winter around the corner, some work against a clock to repair broken windows and damaged walls. Temperatures will drop below sub-zero. Some fear that an unprotected winter may take a heavy toll on children and their young lungs.

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