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The children, ranging in age from eight to 16, shared their heart-wrenching experiences of losing parents, siblings and close relatives due to the conflict that has engulfed their homeland. AFP News

Ukrainian children, who have tragically lost loved ones in the ongoing conflict, made a heartfelt appeal to the United Nations Security Council, calling for immediate action to end the devastating war that has left countless families shattered.

The emotional plea was delivered through a virtual session, with the young speakers bravely sharing their stories and expressing the profound impact the conflict has had on their lives.

The appeal comes at a crucial time when international efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Ukrainian crisis are intensifying.

The children, ranging in age from 8 to 16, shared their heart-wrenching experiences of losing parents, siblings and close relatives due to the conflict that has engulfed their homeland.

Their stories painted a stark picture of the human cost of war, highlighting the immense challenges faced by those who are left behind to grapple with grief and loss.

Scheduled to address the UN body during a broader visit to the US are Kira, 14 and Ilya, 11, hailing from the besieged city of Mariupol.

Kira recounted her experience, stating: "I was standing at a bus stop at 6 am, waiting to go to school when I started hearing a few explosions. It was then I realised the war had started." This revelation comes ahead of their trip to New York, with subsequent plans for a visit to Washington.

Kira's loss of childhood innocence was immediate as she endured the harrowing reality of war.

For approximately a month, she sought refuge, finding shelter in various places such as houses, basements and even a church while Mariupol faced relentless bombardment, grappling with severe shortages of food, water and electricity.

Initially seeking refuge at her grandfather's, Kira and her father, Yevhen Obedinskyi, moved to what she describes as "a noisy district," where explosions intensified over about a week and a half.

Eventually, the situation became untenable, prompting them to attempt an escape—only to face a tragic turn of events.

Yevhen lost his life, and due to the perilous circumstances with Russians firing at windows, Kira, along with the accompanying family, had to leave his body behind, seeking sanctuary in a cellar to endure a while longer.

After weeks of desperation, Kira, along with members of her father's girlfriend's family and other families, made a daring attempt to flee Mariupol.

Recalling the journey, Kira mentions promises of chocolate as an incentive to leave the city, but their escape was thwarted when they were intercepted and captured by pro-Russian separatists.

Approximately two years into the full-scale invasion, Ukraine's prosecutor general estimates that 528 children have lost their lives, while 2,134 remain missing.

Shockingly, another 19,500 are believed to have been abducted, with reports suggesting they were taken to Russia, where some are subjected to forced re-education involving a "pro-Russia patriotic and military-related education."

Adding to the gravity of the situation, the International Criminal Court in The Hague took a significant step in March 2023 by issuing arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Russia's children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova.

The court argued that there are grounds to suspect their responsibility for the "unlawful deportation" of thousands of children.

The United Kingdom, along with its allies, has been actively engaged in diplomatic initiatives to address the Ukrainian crisis.

In addition to diplomatic efforts, the UK government has pledged humanitarian support for the affected families, including counselling services and educational programs aimed at helping children cope with the trauma of war.

The international community is being called upon to contribute to these efforts to ensure that the children of Ukraine have the support they need to rebuild their lives.

The emotional appeal from these young voices serves as a stark reminder that, beyond geopolitical considerations, the human cost of war demands immediate and concerted action to bring about a lasting and peaceful resolution to the Ukrainian crisis.