Children rest at a rescue center at Lviv’s main railway station on Thursday, after fleeing Mala Vyska with their mother by train ©Getty Images

More than half of Ukrainian children have lost their homes to the conflict with Russia, a United Nations agency has said, a “sinister step” that could reverberate for generations to come.

Unicef ​​said 4.3 million children have been displaced in Ukraine, more than half of the country’s estimated 7.5 million. Nearly 2 million people have crossed into neighboring countries as refugees and 2.5 million young people are now internally displaced.

“The war has caused one of the fastest large-scale displacements of children since the Second World War,” UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell said on Thursday.

“This is a grim step that could have lasting consequences for generations to come. Children’s safety, well-being and access to essential services are all threatened by horrific and unrelenting violence,” he said. she added.

The charity noted a reduction in vaccination coverage for “routine and childhood vaccination, including measles and polio”.

“This could quickly lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, especially in crowded areas where people are sheltering from violence,” Unicef ​​said.

In total, more than 3.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine, including 1.8 million children.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said on Wednesday that at least 121 children had been killed and 167 injured in a war in which Russian forces targeted civilian neighborhoods and public buildings with artillery fire. and rockets.

“In just a few weeks, the war has caused such devastation for Ukrainian children,” Russell said.

“Children are in urgent need of peace and protection,” she added. “Critical infrastructure on which children depend, including hospitals, schools and buildings housing civilians, must never be attacked,” she added.