New York [US], March 10 (ANI): The head of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Catherine Russell, expressed her horror over the reported destruction of a maternity hospital in the coastal city of Mariupol, which has been reportedly under heavy bombardment for days.
In a statement, the UNICEF chief said she was "horrified by the reported attack...an attack which reportedly left young children and women in labour, buried beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings. We do not yet know the number of casualties but fear the worst."
"This attack, if confirmed, underscores the horrific toll this war is exacting on Ukraine's children and families" she added. "In less than two weeks, at least 37 children have been killed and 50 injured, while more than one million children have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries.
"Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure - including hospitals, water and sanitation systems and schools - are unconscionable and must stop immediately", she added.
The UN humanitarians warned the exodus of millions of Ukrainians from their country following the Russian invasion could overwhelm neighbouring countries, UN News reported.
More than 2.2 million people have fled Ukraine according to UN refugee agency UNHCR; most have found shelter in Poland and more than 200,000 have reached Hungary.
The UN chief "told the President that he will do everything possible to mobilize the whole of the UN system, in coordination with UNHCR, to support Poland's generosity", UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
Latest estimates from UN aid agencies suggest that four million refugees are likely by the end of the war, which represents about 10 per cent of Ukraine's population.
The development follows news alerts on Wednesday that a Russian strike on a children's hospital and maternity ward in the stricken city of Mariupol, had left children buried under the rubble, according to Ukrainian officials.
The bombing has not been independently verified, but Dujarric said the UN was urgently investigating the "shocking" reports.
In a tweet, Guterres described reports of the attack as "horrific", noting that civilians were paying "the highest price, for a war that has nothing to do with them. This senseless violence must stop." (ANI)