Alina and Kristina live in Mikolaiv, Ukraine, they have spent most of the last 3 months underground
“I wake up and brush my teeth. Then I have breakfast. Then I sit down for classes. After classes I rest for a bit and then I have lunch. Then we play in the street. When the siren starts or the shelling starts, we play in the basement. The moment they bomb, Mom goes down. Dad stays on top. But when it’s strong, Dad goes down too. Right now, I just don’t want them to bomb me.” She says Alina eleven years old.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating impact on all aspects of life here. And, as in other armed conflicts, children have been particularly affected.
Joe English is a spokesperson for UNICEF:
“I don’t think there is a single child in Ukraine who hasn’t been touched in one way or another by this conflict. In the most serious cases, children who have been directly exposed to violence, to weeks of bombing, to living underground in shelters, they can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Mass displacements have left children exposed to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. While the conflict itself puts millions at risk of being maimed or worse. Since the beginning of the war, more than 200 children have lost their lives.
“You don’t need science to wonder if children will be harmed by this,” Dr. Jack Shonkoff of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University tells Euronews. Children will carry the scars of this conflict in one form or another well into their adult years.
“When the stress system is activated, levels of stress hormones rise in the bloodstream, heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, the immune system is activated, and inflammation rises inside the body. blood sugar levels rise fueling our brains to think more clearly and our muscles to fight or run, and all of these systems, if they don’t return to baseline, start to have a wearing down effect on parts of the brain that can affect behavior, mental state and mental health, but also the cardiovascular system, immune system and metabolism in an attrition effect So yes, mental health issues are hugely important, but so are physical health, but these will appear later.
Later, in the future, something difficult to imagine for people here, now.
“I don’t know. What can I plan today? They can bomb us, there’s no point in guessing the future. A rocket comes and we cease to exist. I don’t see the point in talking about it. We live from day to day.” -says the father of Alina and Kristina.