The United Nations said Wednesday that $5.6 billion was needed this year to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine and to the millions who have fled the war-ravaged country.
Nearly a year after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion, the need for aid was “enormous,” with some 21.8 million Ukrainians requiring assistance, it said.
“The war continues to cause death, destruction and displacement daily, and on a staggering scale,” said UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths.
More than 7,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine in the past year, and around 12,000 injured, according to UN estimates, which were “almost certainly low,” he said launching the appeal in Geneva.
“The suffering of the Ukrainian people is far from over. They continue to need international support.”
The needs are so great that aid organisations cannot reach everyone, but the UN said the requested $5.6 billion would allow it to reach the 15.3 million people in most dire need this year.
– ‘Massive’ displacement –
A full $1.7 billion of that amount was needed for assistance to the more than four million Ukrainian refugees hosted in 10 eastern European countries.
Most of that would go to Poland, which is hosting more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees, and Moldova, the main transit country for Ukrainians making their way further into Europe.
Women and children account for around 86 percent of the overall refugee population, according to the UN.
There are nearly six million people displaced inside Ukraine in addition to the some 4.8 million registered refugees, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said, adding that there were also many who had not registered.
The Ukraine “displacement crises remain the largest in the world,” he told reporters.
“The scale of displacement continues to be quite massive.”
Grandi hailed that Europe had proven “capable of bold, collective action to help refugees,” stressing though that “continued international support and solidarity is needed until refugees are able to return to their homes in safety and dignity, which must also remain a priority.”
Since the war began, humanitarian organisations in Ukraine have been working to reach people across the country, with nearly 16 million receiving aid and protection services in 2022, including in areas outside of the Ukrainian government’s control.
– ‘Appalling’ –
Inside Ukraine, “the war has profoundly affected access to livelihoods and disrupted market stability, particularly in southern and eastern oblasts, further aggravating humanitarian suffering,” the appeal said.
It warned that “a majority of Ukrainians have reportedly reduced food consumption and spent savings,” pointing to soaring unemployment, skyrocketing inflation and inadequate social assistance.
And while food and other necessary items were still widely available in most areas under the control of the Ukrainian government, it cautioned that such items were “difficult for many people to afford without cash, voucher, or livelihood assistance.”
And they “are much more difficult to obtain in areas experiencing constant bombardment,” it said, highlighting the “systematic destruction of civilian infrastructure throughout the war.”
Grandi called on the international community not to become accustomed to the destruction seen on a daily basis in Ukraine.
“It is quite appalling what the Russian invasion is doing to the country,” he told reporters.
In 2022, the UN humanitarian agencies received 80 percent of the $4.3 billion they had sought for their operations to address the crisis inside Ukraine, while they received just over 70 percent of the nearly $1.8 billion requested for the refugees.
“We were relatively well funded last year,” Grandi said.
“We count on that generosity to last.”