Thousands of children have been forced out of school in eastern Ukraine due to last week’s surge in fighting.
At least five schools and two kindergartens have been damaged by heavy shelling and 11 other schools have had to close, according to humanitarian organisations supporting the emergency education response in Ukraine.
More than 2,600 children from 13 schools in government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine have been affected by the sharp escalation in fighting, along with hundreds more from schools in non-government controlled areas.
In the town of Avdiivka, seven schools and kindergartens remain shut, with almost 1,400 children out of school.
Families in Avdiivka and other villages in the area are afraid of sending their children to the schools that remain open, due to the heavy fighting and fears of unexploded ordnance in the streets.
UNICEF and Save the Children organization condemned the indiscriminate shelling of schools, and call for all sides to immediately recommit to the ceasefire signed in Minsk in August 2015.
The organizations urge all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and ensure that schools and other civilian infrastructure are never attacked or in the line of fire.
The latest closure of schools has worsened the ongoing education crisis already affecting more than 600,000 children in eastern Ukraine.
After nearly three years of conflict, more than 740 school – one in five – have been damaged or destroyed, resulting in girls and boys missing many months of schooling due to displacement and the effects of conflict.
Photo courtesy: UNICEF