A YEAR into the war in Ukraine, Unicef's Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom is calling for children to be supported, after visiting Kyiv, Irpin and Demydiv.

Bloom visited the children of Ukraine on a three-day trip, aiming to bring awareness on the physical and mental implications the Russian invasion has caused.

Unicef has reported 1.5 million children are expected to suffer from mental health issues such as depression or anxiety as a consequence of the war.

The war has also damaged or destroyed thousands of schools, causing almost 2.7 million pupils to switch to online learning.

In addition, two out of three Ukrainian children seeking refuge are not currently enrolled in their host country’s education system.

Bloom said: “While Unicef is helping ensure that children are able to learn online, they are still missing out on the crucial experience of interacting with their classmates and teachers.

"Especially for younger children, these interactions are key for their emotional and cognitive development and cannot be replaced by a computer screen.”

Research recently carried out by Unicef shows that pre-school children are specially affected by online school as they are lacking the opportunity to develop critical skills needed to succeed in school.

Bloom met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss child rights and child-centred recovery in Ukraine.

When visiting Irpin, Bloom went to a school where, with the support of Unicef, the basement has been turned into a bomb shelter, providing a safe space for the children when air-raid sirens go off.

Unicef's "Spilno Child Spots" scheme provides psychosocial support, medical checks and referrals to specialised services.

In 2022, more than 500,000 children and caregivers were reported to make use of the 180 Spilno Spots across the country, with Bloom visiting them in Irpin and Kyiv.

He said: “Amid the chaos and uncertainty of war, supporting children’s education is an essential tool in protecting their long-term mental health and wellbeing.

“Above all, children need an end to this war and sustained peace to regain their childhoods, return to normalcy and begin to heal and recover."