UN and partners boost presence and aid supplies inside Ukraine

A man photographs an apartment building that was heavily damaged during escalating conflict, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
© UNICEF/Anton Skyba for The Globe and Mail
A man photographs an apartment building that was heavily damaged during escalating conflict, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

UN and partners boost presence and aid supplies inside Ukraine

Humanitarian Aid

Humanitarians are deploying extra staff across Ukraine to aid the growing number of civilians sheltering from Russian bombardment, or fleeing the violence, the UN Spokesperson said on Thursday.

Stéphane Dujarric told correspondents at the daily briefing in New York that an estimated 1.9 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced, while more than 2.3 million have now crossed the western border in search of safety, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

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“Three things are critical in the short term, as Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths has stressed: civilians, whether they stay or leave, must be respected and protected; safe passage is needed for humanitarian supplies; and we need a system of constant communications with parties to the conflict”, said Mr. Dujarric.

In terms of response, humanitarian organizations are deploying additional staff across the country and are working to move supplies to warehouses in different hubs within Ukraine and outside.”

Half a million reached

He said the UN and partners had reached more than 500,000 people with some form of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine so far, including life-saving food, shelter, blankets, and medical supplies.

And he added that if greater humanitarian access can be secured – depending on the willingness of Russian forces – “we are set to reach much higher numbers given the scope and scale of the humanitarian operations being currently deployed.”

UNHCR reports that by the end of yesterday, it had delivered 85 metric tons of humanitarian assistance to reception and transit centres in Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, which is hosting those who have fled hostilities further east.

Mr. Dujarric said the World Food Programme (WFP) was “deeply concerned about the impact of conflict on Ukraine’s food security and the waning ability of families in embattled areas, to feed themselves.” 

‘Race against time’

WFP plans to assist up to 3.1 million, with a focus on supplying cities inside Ukraine with bulk food, bread, and food rations. 

“With consignments of food assistance arriving every day, WFP is in a race against time to pre-position food in areas where fighting is expected to flare”, said the UN Spokesperson. 

Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that the coming weeks will be critical, as farmers will need to prepare land for sowing vegetables in the middle of March. Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of grain for export.

Between February and May, Ukrainian farmers would normally be preparing land for planting wheat, barley, maize, and sunflowers. FAO is stressing that all efforts should be made to protect harvests and livestock, during the intense and growing conflict.

The basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv has been turned into a makeshift maternity ward amidst the escalating conflict in Ukraine.
© UNICEF/Oleksandr Ratushniak
The basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv has been turned into a makeshift maternity ward amidst the escalating conflict in Ukraine.

Protecting children

The UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, said on Thursday that more than one million children have now fled Ukraine. To protect and sustain those who remain, who can be reached, six trucks carrying nearly 70 tons of supplies have arrived, Mr. Dujarric reported, including personal protection equipment and medical, surgical and obstetric kits.

“Working with its partners, UNICEF teams in Ukraine will be delivering medical supplies to 22 hospitals in five different conflict-affected areas in the country, to benefit 20,000 children and mothers.

“Across the border, three trucks were sent from Copenhagen – which is UNICEF’s warehouse in Europe and the largest humanitarian hub in the world – and those trucks were carrying essential supplies, such as early childhood development, recreational and hygiene kits. These supplies have now arrived in Poland.”

Health supplies pipeline

The World Health Organization (WHO), has delivered 81 metric tons of supplies and is establishing a pipeline of supplies for health facilities across Ukraine, he noted.

WHO has also released $10.2 million from its Contingency Fund and deployed staff to provide more essential care to exhausted and devastated refugees fleeing their homeland.

Appeal for Ukraine

The Ukraine Flash Appeal 2022 has received $109 million so far, which represents 9.6 per cent of what is needed. The appeal which was launched by the Secretary-General on 1 March, requires $1.1 billion for a three-month period for humanitarian response inside Ukraine.

“As we have said we encourage the donors who made generous pledges to release the money quickly and report their contribution to OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service”, said Mr. Dujarric.

If you want to make a donation to help the work of the UN and partners in Ukraine, please go here, to the UN crisis relief page for the country