At least 20 children, ranging from ages 4 to 18 years old, are currently trapped in the centre of Kharkiv because of the ongoing Russian attacks amidst the invasion of Ukraine, which began on Thursday. Children with disabilities, orphans, and a breastfed baby orphan are among them. One child has already unfortunately died. Therefore, an urgent humanitarian corridor must be open to save them and others caught in the war, says Gintarė Narkevičiūtė-Jurgelionė, a permanent Lithuanian aid organiser for people in Ukraine.
“Every few minutes, we check if the children are still alive, even as we speak, another attack is taking place,” states Gintarė.
In Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, which is approximately 30 kilometres from the Russian border, children from the NGO’s “Asterix” help centre are trapped in spread out underground shelters, some being accompanied by elderly citizens. Among them, children with disabilities, orphans, a breastfed baby orphan, and two dogs. These shelters lack air, food, water, and other amenities required for their survival.
“The situation is dire. Without us, they don’t have anything, and even with this mission, we open Pandora’s Box — only the UN can cover this number of civilians with such and similar needs,” says the Lithuanian aid organiser.
The rescue operation is organised by Gintarė Narkevičiūtė-Jurgelionė, who has become a vital part of helping Ukrainians since Russia brought war to Ukraine. She is a former adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Lithuania and a prominent figure in Ukraine for being a permanent support and aid organiser since 2013, with notably being engaged in the Maidan revolution of 2014.
“It is out of my power to assure the security of the transportation, as it will immediately become a live target until it reaches safer regions. A humanitarian corridor is the only way to help these people; we might not have another chance,” explains Gintarė Narkevičiūtė-Jurgelionė.
Humanitarian corridors have been used throughout global conflicts, such as the Bosnian war and in Syria, Libya, Armenia and Gaza. They allow the safe transit of humanitarian aid and refugees who would otherwise not be sheltered from any military activity.
“I can help many people by letting the convoys go without a humanitarian corridor. However, I would be risking transforming them into living targets for the Russian Army. We have been waiting for 82 hours already,” asserts the support mission organiser.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Ukrainian officials report that 198 civilians, including children, have already been killed by the Russian armed forces.
—by Lukas BARBIER (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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