Boris Johnson has written an open letter to the children of Ukraine, praising them as role models for children and adults everywhere and telling them “we in the UK will never forget you”.
He writes that “in any other year, children like you would be spilling out of your homes and schools to play with your friends, to chase a football… to simply enjoy what is supposed to be a uniquely carefree time in your lives.
“Of course, this is not any other year,” he adds.
The letter references his trip to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy in April, when he praised the Ukrainian president’s “resolute leadership” and “invincible heroism”.
He repeats this praise for the children of Ukraine and asks them to keep two things in mind, firstly that they should be immensely proud “of your country, your parents, your families and your soldiers, and most of all proud of yourselves”.
“Many of you have seen or experienced things no child should have to witness,” the letter states.
“Yet, every day Ukrainian children are teaching all of us what it means to be strong and dignified, to hold your head high in even the toughest of times, I can think of no better role model for children and adults everywhere.”
According to UNICEF, two million children have been forced to flee Ukraine, more than half of them arriving in Poland, with another 2.5 million children displaced internally.
A senior British diplomat has warned of credible allegations of sexual violence against children by Russian troops.
‘Ukraine is going to win this war’
“And the second thing is that you are not alone,” the letter adds.
“You may be separated from your friends at home, but you have millions of others all over the world.
“Here in the United Kingdom, we fly Ukrainian flags from our homes, offices, churches, shops and playgrounds, even from my own roof in Downing Street, where the windows are filled with sunflowers drawn by British children.
“Our young people are painting your flag in their classrooms and making blue and yellow bracelets in support of your country.
“I believe, like your president, that Ukraine is going to win this war. I hope with all my heart that, one day soon, you will be free to return to your homes, your schools, your families.
“And whatever happens, however long it takes, we in the UK will never forget you, and will always be proud to call you our friends,” the letter concludes.