Orlando Bloom on taking cover in Ukraine combat zone: 'It was surreal'

By Marilyn Malara  |  May 6, 2016 at 10:02 AM
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NEW YORK, May 6 (UPI) -- Orlando Bloom spent time with schoolchildren in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine in order to raise awareness about the region's education crisis for UNICEF.

The British actor and Goodwill Ambassador visited former classrooms riddled by shells near the conflict's front lines and talked to children who experienced the violence first-hand.

"I met children like 11 year old Liana who hid in the basement of their school for almost two weeks, in freezing conditions, without lighting or heat, while shelling devastated the classrooms above," the Pirates of the Caribbean actor said. "Now, after surviving some of the most terrifying experiences life could possibly throw at them, all they want is to get back to the safety and routine of school and plan for their futures."

Bloom also penned an op-ed for CNN describing his recent travels to eastern Ukraine, outlining the anguish most of the children there have endured during the years-long conflict.

"No one should ever have to live through this," Bloom wrote, later explaining he and his team were once forced to take cover deeper in the combat zone.

"It is surreal and shocking. I wasn't expecting to actually have to find cover myself. But I am here meeting children who have had to take much more serious precautions, for a much longer time. I can't comprehend how frightened they must have been," he wrote.

UNICEF noted that a new study showed nearly a quarter of the world's children -- about 462 million -- are now living in crisis-stricken countries. In eastern Ukraine, about 580,000 children are in need of aid and education while 230,000 of them have been displaced from their homes.

The organization also said one in five schools and kindergartens have been damaged or destroyed as a result of the ongoing conflict, which erupted two years ago.

About 57 schools in the region have been repaired with UNICEF's help, the charity reported.

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