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Russia’s war against Ukraine had made Ukrainian children separated from their families and homes, forcefully deported, injured, deprived of their fundamental rights to safety, health, education, and freedom. Deprived of their peaceful childhood.

Witnessing the War informational campaign aims to tell about the devastating consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through their stories.

Every child has the
right to be alive.


As Russian missiles and drones hit residential areas, children of all ages, some as young as a few months or even days old, became victims of their aggression.

Serhii was the fourth child in the family of Mariia Kamianetska and Vitalii Podlianov. “We have a son,” Mariia wrote to her husband after giving birth. However, Vitalii never got to see the baby alive. Serhii, just two days old, was killed by a Russian missile hit on the maternity ward in the city of Vilniansk, the Zaporizhzhia region.

The rubble of the destroyed maternity ward in Vilnyansk, the Zaporizhzhia region.
Photo: Heidi Levine for The Washington Post

Children have the right to the best health care possible, clean water to drink, healthy food, and a clean and safe environment to live in.


“I was playing outside, and then it all happened; I don’t even remember,” little Oleksandra says. A seven-year-old gymnast is one of more than a thousand children who were injured as a result of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. An enemy rocket hit the house where the girl lived with her parents.

With numerous injuries, Sasha was taken to a local hospital, where doctors had to amputate the girl’s leg. Now, she learns to live and do what she loves with a prosthesis.

Photo: Odesa City Council

Children have the right to their own identity – an official record of who they are which includes their name, nationality and family relations.

Children have the right to use their own language, culture, and religion.


“They told us directly: ‘You are like in a prison here. You have no opinion. There is only our [point of view] and the wrong one,’” say Zhenia and Taia, girls returned from the “re-education” camp in temporarily occupied Crimea.

There, children were repeatedly forced to stand up to the Russian anthem and perform Russian songs. They were told that the Ukrainian language did not exist and that their parents had abandoned them – and pressured in other ways to denounce their heritage.

Screenshot from SURGe Ukraine video

Illia was nine when Russia started its full-scale invasion in 2022. His mother was killed in Mariupol, and the injured boy was taken to the temporarily occupied Donetsk. There, Russians tried to use him for propaganda purposes.

“I was taught to write in Russian, and one day my doctor came to me and said that from now on you will not say “Glory to Ukraine” but “Glory to Ukraine as part of Russia,” Illia notes. Only after the boy was returned from the temporarily occupied territories did he receive proper medical care.

Screenshot from SURGe Ukraine video

Whenever possible, children should know
their parents and be looked after by them.


When Russia started its full-scale war against Ukraine in February 2022, Sashko and his mother, Snizhana, lived in Mariupol. They were taken from the besieged city to the filtration camp.

“I sat in the filtration camp, waiting for my mother for several hours. When she was brought back, they [Russians – ed.] didn’t even let me say goodbye to her. I was said to be taken away from my mother to an orphanage – and there I would be adopted by a Russian family,” Sashko says. He has not seen his mother since.

Screenshot from SURGe Ukraine video

Every child has the right to an education. Secondary and higher education should be available to every child.


Before the full-scale war, a town of Snihurivka had four schools, with nearly 1,235 children attending. Additionally, the town had the Children’s School of the Arts. Today, none of these institutions remain intact.

“[Russian attack – ed.] pierced the roof and the wall in the inner courtyard, shattered the windows, and broke the doors. Only a miracle can revive it,” says Nataliia, principal of one of the local schools.

Photo: Maks Nemykin