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We need solutions now to address global food insecurity and prevent future food crises
by Humanitarian and development agencies
17 May 2022
This week, world leaders will turn their attention to the global hunger crisis in two pivotal events organized by the United States: a ministerial-level meeting on May 18 and a Security Council open debate on May 19. The overarching aim of these events is to catalyze action on global food security and resilience, focusing on the critical links between conflict and hunger, including the impacts of the war in Ukraine.
As humanitarian and development organizations working around the world to prevent and respond to unprecedented levels of food insecurity and the imminent threat of famine we face today, we welcome the fact that the United States has brought this urgent crisis to the top of the agenda during its presidency of the UN Security Council. We urge governments to seize this opportunity to make concrete and substantial commitments to address the needs identified by affected states, civil society, and people experiencing hunger.
Global food security has steadily worsened over the past several years. According to the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises, nearly 193 million people experienced crisis level or worse food insecurity in 2021, an increase of almost 40 million over the previous record in 2020. The negative food security outlook is projected to continue or worsen this year, and the global food systems impact of the crisis in Ukraine will only contribute to further decline.
The global hunger crisis is felt most by vulnerable and marginalized people with limited capacity to absorb additional shocks. This includes women and girls who, despite the key role they play in producing and preparing food, often eat last and least during times of acute food insecurity, are at higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence and various forms of exploitation and abuse, and are frequently excluded from conversations about how to address food insecurity.
Food insecurity and malnutrition also has a devastating impact on children, exposing them to immediate and life-long cognitive and developmental impacts, weakening their immune system, and leading to negative household coping strategies like child labor, withdrawal of children from school, and gender-based violence, including child marriage and other forms of violence against children.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and resulting disruption to food, fuel, and fertilizer markets has exacerbated an existing food crisis driven by conflict, climatic shocks, COVID-19, and economic pressures, particularly in contexts already experiencing humanitarian crises.
In order to pull people back from the brink of starvation, create sustainable food systems, and prevent future food crises, we need comprehensive solutions that address the myriad drivers and impacts of food insecurity.
Global humanitarian funding to prevent and respond to food insecurity is critical, and the international community must see this moment as a tipping point to avert catastrophe.
However, emergency aid alone is not enough to end this crisis. Donors must get better at leveraging longer-term funding mechanisms to get ahead of rising global hunger levels and promote resilience. States must also engage in concerted diplomacy and cooperation to put forward rights-based trade, economic, climate, food systems, and social protection policies, and avoid restrictive trade measures that threaten to plunge millions more people into acute food insecurity.
In support of this, state, donor, multilateral, and other stakeholders seeking to address global food security, including conflict-induced hunger, should take the following concrete steps:
First, prioritize inclusive diplomacy to address the root causes of food insecurity and support policy measures that protect poor and vulnerable people’s ability to access food and livelihoods. This includes keeping ports and trade flows open, mitigating balance of payment pressures, investing in social protection and safety nets, and supporting domestic food production and equitable distribution of land which empowers small scale producers, including women.
It also requires upholding the protection of civilians and civilian objects during conflict and addressing the effects of climate change on food security by delivering on commitments to finance climate action from the Paris Agreement and operationalize the Santiago Network.
Second, protect and increase funding to respond to the short, medium, and long-term impacts of the food security crisis. Donors should increase assistance toward global humanitarian appeals, maintain Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments, and refrain from diverting aid from pre-existing crises to respond to new emergencies, including the Ukraine crisis and domestic refugee responses. Efforts should be made to direct aid to local organizations, including women-led organizations, that are already responding to hunger in their communities.
Additionally, donors should scale up predictable, multi-year funding for humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding programs to strengthen resilience, ensuring that funding and programs are cohesive, coordinated, and gender transformative.
Third, tailor food assistance modalities – including cash, vouchers, in-kind food assistance, and livelihoods and agricultural support – to each context. While the overall goal of assistance is to immediately save lives, careful consideration of aid modalities can help to increase resilience to global market disruptions. Donors should recognize that cash and vouchers can reach hungry people in crisis more quickly than commodity support in the short-term. Increasing support to small-scale farmers and sustainable agriculture practices, such as agroecology and renewable energy for agricultural production, is critical to increase livelihoods and help farmers cope with rising fuel prices and reduced access to fertilizers and other inputs.
Finally, the Security Council must address conflict-induced hunger by fully implementing UNSC Resolutions 2417 (2018) and 2573 (2021). Monitoring and reporting on the risk of famine and food insecurity in countries with armed conflict should be more systematic, and swift follow-up action must be taken to hold perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law accountable.
Denial of access to deliver humanitarian assistance, the use of hunger as a weapon of war, and acts of violence that threaten or harm civilians or destroy critical civilian infrastructure, whether intentional or not, cannot be tolerated. Member States, particularly donors, must strengthen their humanitarian diplomacy to prevent these violations of international humanitarian law and respond to such incidents when they occur.
We hope these critical meetings serve as a first step in a sustained global effort to address the drivers and humanitarian impact of the global hunger crisis. It is essential that the goodwill and commitments put forward this week are translated into immediate and sustained action. We urge the U.S. government and other Member State participants to keep their attention on this crisis and promote accountability by identifying opportunities for continued high-level engagement and progress-tracking. The G7 Leaders’ Summit in June and the UN General Assembly in September are high visibility moments to galvanize this momentum into tangible outcomes.
The world cannot wait for a declaration of famine to act. By then, it will be too late. We urge the international community to put the full force of resources, diplomacy, and policy action behind preventing large-scale loss of life due to hunger and promoting lasting food security for millions of people around the globe.
* Endorsing Organizations: Action Against Hunger USA, Adventist Development and Relief Agency International, CARE, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, ChildFund Alliance, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Danish Refugee Council, Global Communities, Handicap International - Humanity & Inclusion, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, IMPACT Initiatives, InterAction, International Rescue Committee, INTERSOS, Islamic Relief, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian People's Aid, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, People in Need, Plan International, Polish Humanitarian Action - Polska Akcja Humanitarna, Refugees International, Save the Children, Solidarités International, Welthungerhilfe, Women for Women International, Women's Refugee Commission, World Vision

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Civilians pay highest price in Ukraine conflict
by United Nations news, agencies
21 Apr. 2022 (UN News)
Over the past two months, Ukraine has seen “suffering, devastation, and destruction on a massive scale”, the UN Crisis Coordinator for the country told journalists on Thursday, and echoed the Secretary-General in saying, “we must stop the bloodshed and destruction”.
“At least 15.7 million people in Ukraine are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection… over five million people fled Ukraine to seek safety in other countries and another 7.1 million have been internally displaced across the country,” said Assistant Secretary-General Amin Awad during a press conference in Lviv, west Ukraine.
“This represents more than 25 per cent of the entire population of Ukraine”.
Mass-scale devastation
Since the war started, civilian infrastructure has taken a massive toll with more than 136 health facilities and an average of 22 schools a day coming under attack. Damaged water systems have left six million people without regular access.
“The world is shocked by what is happening in Ukraine,” said Mr. Awad. The fate of some 100,000 civilians around Mariupol is very concerning.
(The Mariupol city council has said about 100,000 residents across the city are “in mortal danger” because of Russian shelling and unsanitary conditions, and described a “catastrophic” shortage of drinking water and food. “Mariupol is a crisis within a crisis. Thousands of civilians need life-saving assistance. Many are elderly, in need of medical care or have limited mobility,” says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “They need an escape route out of the apocalypse.”)
People living in occupied Kherson are short on food and medicines; Mykolaiv has been without water for seven days; and the devastation of urban centres and civilian infrastructure across the oblasts – especially in Donetska, Luhanska, Khakvska, Kyivska and Chernivska – have disrupted critical services for millions, including water and health care.
The UN Crisis Coordinator described first-hand, his account of the devastation.
“I have met with people who had to carry the bodies of their family members and neighbours from the streets of Bucha and Irpin to be buried in gardens or mass graves. I cannot begin to imagine their suffering”.
He said that attacking noncombatants or civilian infrastructure is “a clear violation of international humanitarian law,” calling for it to stop and for civilians to be protected and allowed safe passage.
At the same time, humanitarians are facing tremendous challenges that often prevent them from delivering assistance to areas where people are in desperate need. “I appeal for safe and unhindered access for all humanitarian assistance,” he said.
He underscored the Secretary-General’s call for a humanitarian pause and the need to “put aside divisions and focus on converging interests to end this senseless war”.
Nearly two months of intense and escalating hostilities in Ukraine continue to have horrific repercussions for civilians and caused a grave humanitarian crisis.
“Aid workers from local and international NGOs and UN agencies have worked to scale up the response to assist more than 3.3 million people. However much more is required to meet the needs of Ukrainians.
"We are still not able or have been prevented from reaching areas where people are in dire need of assistance, including Mariupol and Kherson”.
7 Mar. 2022
Ukraine war now ‘apocalyptic’ humanitarians warn, in call for safe access. (UN News)
Allowing civilians to safely leave areas under fire in Ukraine, and delivering desperately needed aid to these locations, are among immediate priorities for humanitarians, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, told the Security Council on Monday.
Mr. Griffiths, together with Catherine Russell, head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), briefed ambassadors on how the UN and partners are responding to rising needs since the Russian offensive began 11 days ago.
“People are watching as this unnecessary conflict engulfs cities and civilians. As well as what’s happening in Ukraine, they have an extra sense of dread over the impact this will have on the wider world. I include myself in this category,” he said.
Mr. Griffiths, who is also the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, outlined three immediate priorities “to lessen the pain and suffering we are all watching unfold in real time.”
First, the parties must take constant care to ensure military operations spare civilians, homes and other infrastructure. Furthermore, people wanting to leave areas of active hostilities must be allowed to do so safely and voluntarily.
As civilians in places such as Mariupol, Kharkiv and elsewhere under attack, desperately need aid, especially life-saving medical supplies, safe passage for humanitarian supplies is also required.
His third point highlighted the urgent need for a system of constant communication with the parties to support aid delivery. He explained that humanitarian notification systems have been implemented in other situations.
“I have already conveyed these three points to the authorities of Ukraine and to the Russian Federation,” said Mr. Griffiths, who is also the UN Humanitarian Coordinator.
The UN and partners were already in Ukraine prior to the escalation, supporting some 1.5 million people in the Donbas region affected by eight years of fighting between Government forces and pro-Russian separatists. In the weeks before the Russian onslaught, they had started preparing for worse. Mr. Griffiths said.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is setting up supply chain operations to deliver immediate food and cash assistance to up to five million people inside Ukraine. UN health agency WHO has shipped trauma care, emergency surgery equipment and other supplies, with more on the way.
The conflict has so far forced more than 2 million people to flee to neighbouring countries, particularly Poland, and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is providing support to them.
Ms. Russell from UNICEF reported that the past eight years of conflict had already inflicted profound and lasting harm on the 7.5 million children in Ukraine, and threats have only grown with the current crisis. Half of all the refugees are children, she said.
"Homes, schools, orphanages, and hospitals have all come under attack, while water and sanitation facilities, and other civilian infrastructure, have been hit, affecting millions".
“What is happening to children in Ukraine is a moral outrage,” said Ms. Russell. “Images of a mother and her two children and a friend lying dead on the street – hit by a mortar as they tried to flee to safety – must shock the conscience of the world. We must act to protect children from this brutality.”
While UNICEF “will continue doing everything" to support Ukraine's children, "the brutality must end", Ms. Russell stated. “Children in Ukraine need help and protection. They need supplies and other critical support. They need access to basic social services like health and education. They need hope for the future. But above all children in Ukraine need peace. It is the only sustainable solution,” she said.
Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs said, "Nearly two weeks on, it is painfully clear that those suffering the most after Russia's invasion of Ukraine are civilians - killed, wounded, displaced. This war is senseless. We are ready to support all good-faith efforts at negotiation to end the bloodshed".
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet repeated her ceasefire call, with humanitarians on the ground describing conditions as increasingly “apocalyptic”.
Addressing the Human Rights Council, Ms. Bachelet said that since Russia began its offensive on 24 February, at least 1,335 civilians have been confirmed wounded or killed - 474 killed and 861 injured. The true number is likely to be much higher, given the type of weapons employed across Ukraine by Russian forces, said the High Commissioner’s Office, OHCHR.
“Most of the civilian casualties are from airstrikes and explosive weapons used by Russian forces with wide area effects, including heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems,” said Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson. “As a result, hundreds of residential buildings in many cities, including Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mariupol and Kyiv have been damaged and destroyed.”
Amid continued shelling and use of multiple rocket launch systems on Ukrainian cities, the UN humanitarian coordinating office, OCHA, reiterated the need to urgently establish a working system to ensure safe passage to get civilians out, and aid workers in.
Nearly two weeks into the Russian invasion, the situation for millions of civilians inside Ukraine continues to worsen.
“This situation is really apocalyptic for people, it is getting worse, they are running out of essential supplies,” said Ewan Watson, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “And so, our call today is really for lifesaving aid to reach these people.”
He added: “We've depleted our stocks, as I said; it stands to reason that people are coming to the end of whatever supplies they had. So, when you ask if this is a matter of life or death, or if it is lifesaving? Yes. For us, it is essential that humanitarian aid gets into a city like Mariupol, and to other cities that are in the midst of conflict in Ukraine today.”
The situation also remains dire for all those in need of healthcare in areas subjected to shelling, warned the UN health agency’s Tarik Jasarevic, speaking from Lviv in western Ukraine. Sixteen attacks on health facilities have now been verified by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“These attacks are a violation of international humanitarian law,” Mr. Jasarevic said, as he echoed calls for all such attacks to stop.
“I talked to this morning to a doctor in Lviv, who was in contact with her colleagues in eastern part of the country, and they were saying that it's very difficult for patients to access healthcare facilities in these areas, not only because of security, but also because of damaged infrastructure.”
Latest data from the UN migration agency (IOM) indicates no let-up in the number of people fleeing the violence across Ukraine’s borders.
“More than two million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring states as a result of the ongoing war in that country,” said Paul Dillon, IOM spokesperson. “Among them are 103,000 third-country nationals from dozens of countries.”
* OCHA Humanitarian updates:
* 16/3: Over 5 million people have been forcibly displaced by the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine, including more than 3 million who have fled the country. Since 24 February, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says more than 1.5 million children have fled Ukraine – 75,000 on average per day. It is important to note that IDP figures are only one side of the humanitarian impact of the military offensive against Ukraine. Over 12 million people are estimated to be stranded in affected areas or unable to leave due to heightened security risks, destruction of bridges and roads, as well as lack of resources or information on where to find safety and accommodation. These people are in need of humanitarian and protection assistance. Many people remain trapped in areas of escalating conflict and, with essential services disrupted, are unable to meet their basic needs including food, water and medicines. Humanitarian corridors with satisfactory security guarantees for the safe evacuation of civilians have still not been secured by both parties, and continue to be the most pressing and urgent need inside Ukraine.
Humanitarian Impact Situation Report (4 March 2022: OCHA)
Urban areas across certain parts of Ukraine have been facing more than a week of relentless shelling that continues to damage and disrupt the functioning of critical civilian infrastructure, leaving thousands without water, heating, or electricity. Shelling and overall violence are also creating critical shortages of food and medicine and preventing the delivery of life-saving supplies and the evacuation of the most vulnerable.
As the geographic reach of the conflict continues to expand every day, new areas outside the traditional hotbeds in eastern Ukraine and major urban centres are increasingly being affected, a worrying trend that could contribute to a significant expansion in the scope and scale of the humanitarian crisis.
In the early hours of 4 March, reports emerged that a fire had broken out at a training centre at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest of its kind in the country – located in south-eastern Ukraine as clashes in the surrounding area of Enerhodar raged on. The fire has since been extinguished and preliminary reports suggest that the plant has not sustained any critical damage to essential equipment, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) saying that there has not been a change in the radiation levels.
The number of civilian causalities continues to mount with each passing hour. Between 24 February and 3 March, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports at least 1,006 civilian casualties, including 331 killed, a figure that is likely much higher as civilian deaths and injuries continue to be verified.
The UN and its humanitarian partners continue to scale up their operations and consider the establishment of new offices and sub-offices across the country, preparing to respond to the increased level of humanitarian needs. Several international humanitarian organizations have already been able to deliver large amounts of assistance either to neighbouring countries or inside Ukraine. The level of humanitarian response is expected to continue growing in the coming days and weeks.
On 3 March, the latest talks between the Russian Federation and Ukraine reportedly resulted in a joint commitment to establish humanitarian corridors for the safe passage of civilians from and humanitarian relief supplies to the worst affected areas. This is potentially a key development in the ongoing humanitarian response across Ukraine, as a growing number of Ukrainian cities come under a relentless siege that is driving an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the country.
The most urgent needs are reported in Dnipro (central), Donetsk (east), Kharkiv (east), Kherson (south), Kyiv (capital), Luhansk (east) and Mariupol (south-east) – home to more than 7.3 million people combined.
Many cities across certain parts of Ukraine have been facing a week of persistent shelling that continues to damage or disrupt functioning of civilian infrastructure, leaving thousands without water, heating or electricity, creating critical shortages of food and medicine.
This is also preventing the delivery of life-saving supplies and the evacuation of the most vulnerable, including children, women, the elderly and people living with disabilities, as roads and bridges as well as trains and railway stations have been significantly damaged or destroyed.
The number of civilian causalities continues to mount with each passing hour. Between 4 a.m. on 24 February and midnight on 3 March, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports at least 1,006 civilian casualties, including 331 killed, a figure that is likely much higher as civilian deaths and injuries continue to be verified. OHCHR reports 440 casualties in Donetska and Luhanska oblasts (54 killed and 277 injured in Government-controlled areas and 23 killed and 86 injured in non-Government-controlled areas) and 566 civilian casualties in other regions of Ukraine.
As the geographic reach of the conflict continues to expand every day, new areas situated outside the traditional hotbeds in eastern Ukraine and major urban centres are increasingly being affected, a worrying trend that could contribute to a significant expansion in the scope and scale of the crisis.
On 3 March, the northern city of Cherniv – home to around 285,000 inhabitants – more than two dozen people were reportedly killed and nearly 20 others injured after strikes hit a civilian apartment complex.
In the early hours of 4 March, reports emerged of a fire had broken out at a training centre at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest of its kind in the country – located in south-eastern Ukraine as clashes in the surrounding area of Enerhodar raged on. The fire has since been extinguished and preliminary reports suggest that the plant has not sustained any critical damage to essential equipment, with the IAEA saying that there has not been a change in the radiation levels at the power plant, which is home to six of the country’s 15 nuclear energy reactors.
The incident served as an ominous reminder of the potential environmental health catastrophe that the ongoing conflict could produce, potentially releasing large amounts of radioactivity in the worst-case scenario.
Amid escalating violence, internal and cross-border displacement continues unabated across certain parts of Ukraine, driving a corresponding growth in humanitarian needs that has already reached crisis levels after just over a week.
While the scale and scope of displacement are not yet clear, it is estimated that more than 10 million people could potentially flee their homes amid the current crisis, including a staggering 4 million people who may cross international borders, a figure that has already surpassed one million since 24 February.
25 Feb. 2022
Ukraine crisis: Terrified families seek shelter underground in capital. (UN News)
Amid reported deadly missile attacks from Russia’s military invasion in Ukraine, including the capital Kiev and other cities, terrified families have been forced to seek shelter underground, the UN said on Friday, adding that at least 100,000 people have likely been displaced by the violence.
“There have been major attacks in Kiev that have created greater fear and panic among the population, with families really scared, moving alongside their children into subways and shelters, and this is clearly a terrifying moment for children across the country,” said Afshan Khan, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director, Europe and Central Asia, speaking in Geneva.
The development follows renewed condemnation for the Russian invasion by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who on Thursday appealed for peace and allocated $20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to meet urgent needs.
The use of force by one country against another is “the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold,” which applied to the military offensive in Ukraine, Mr. Guterres insisted. “It is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable. But it is not irreversible.”
The Secretary-General called on soldiers in Russia’s war on Ukraine to “return to their barracks”... “We must never give up. We must give peace another chance,” he said.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned that the military escalation will have a high impact on civilian lives, and he reiterated the UN Secretary-General’s call for an immediate ceasefire.
Two days since Russia launched military operations inside Ukraine, the UN rights office, OHCHR, confirmed that confirmed that many civilians have already been killed and injured.
“We’ve received reports of at least 127 civilian casualties in Ukraine, caused by shelling and airstrikes…this is very likely to be an underestimate,” said Ravina Shamdasani, OHCHR spokesperson.
Communities are already in need of aid relief, too, UN humanitarians warned.
“When we look at shortages, we’re talking about fuel, which has been well reported in the media, we’re talking about cash, because often in humanitarian situations, cash assistance would be our first support to families, so obviously there’s been a drawdown on banks,” said UNICEF’s Ms. Khan.
Echoing that message and in an appeal for guaranteed humanitarian access to the most vulnerable individuals, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted concerns that medical teams face being overwhelmed.
“We don’t have reports yet from the hospitals, when we look to particular injuries and the details of medical needs,” said Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine. “Where our focus has been now, is that the prepositioned medical kits. We will run out of them soon, so what is important how to ensure new supplies to come and...that there are humanitarian corridors from the neighbouring countries available.”
28 Feb. 2022
After three days of intense clashes across areas in parts of Ukraine, the number of civilian casualties and damage to critical infrastructure are growing, the UN Security Council heard on Monday during an urgent meeting on the humanitarian situation in the country.
Addressing the Council, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi highlighted that despite the evolving situation in Ukraine, UN humanitarian organizations and NGO partners have remained in the country and are “now caught up in this deadly conflict.”
“They are still striving to deliver help to people in need whenever a small window of relative security allows for humanitarian aid to be distributed…often in extremely dangerous circumstances,” he said. However, he lamented, “we are not even scratching the surface to meet the needs of Ukrainians.”
“The situation is moving so quickly, and the levels of risk are so high by now that it is impossible for humanitarians to distribute systematically the help Ukrainians desperately need”.
Mr. Grandi echoed the Secretary-General and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator’s urgent call to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and to grant humanitarian access to those impacted by war.
“A failure to do so will compound the already extraordinary levels of human suffering”, underlined the High Commissioner.
In addition to the grave situation inside Ukraine, hundreds of thousands are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. “They need safety and protection, first and foremost, but also shelter, food, hygiene and other support; and they need it urgently,” said Mr. Grandi.
While some 520,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, he pointed out that that figure has been “rising exponentially, hour after hour, literally, since Thursday”.
“I have worked in refugee crises for almost 40 years and I have rarely seen such an incredibly fast exodus of people – the largest, surely, within Europe, since the Balkan wars,” the UN refugee chief attested.
He said that over 280,000 had fled to Poland; 94,000 to Hungary; nearly 40,000 to Moldova; 34,000 to Romania; 30,000 to Slovakia; tens of thousands to other European countries; and “a sizeable number” to Russia.
Commending the Governments of receiving countries, Mr. Grandi acknowledged the daunting challenges of admitting, registering and meeting the needs of those fleeing, and raised serious concern that further escalation would drive up further the number of arrivals.
Expressing gratitude to the Governments of Ukraine’s neighbours as well as “ordinary Poles, Hungarians, Moldovans, Romanians, Slovaks and citizens of other European countries,” he commended their “extraordinary acts of humanity and kindness…so needed in times of crisis”.
He urged European Union (EU) nations and other Governments to continue providing bilateral support to Ukrainian refugee-receiving countries as UNHCR, its UN partners, and national and international NGOs, scale up efforts.
“We encourage host countries to avail themselves of our support and expert advice as they address the situation and uphold their international obligations,” he said.
“Unless there is an immediate halt to conflict, Ukrainians will simply continue to flee,” said Mr. Grandi. “We are currently planning…for up to four million refugees in the coming days and weeks”.
A rapid increase would be a huge burden for receiving States, which cannot be left alone to shoulder the responsibility. “I, therefore, welcome the support expressed by many European States, to activate a Temporary Protection Directive for people fleeing Ukraine,” he said.
If activated, it would provide immediate, temporary refuge in the EU and facilitate responsibility sharing for people fleeing Ukraine among EU member States.
Tomorrow, the UN will launch a humanitarian Appeal for Ukraine – for activities both inside and outside the country.
“Ukrainians – and countries hosting refugees — cannot wait,” said the High Commissioner.
He reiterated that although humanitarian workers are courageous, resourceful and experienced, “they cannot keep the pace of conflicts constantly growing in numbers and gravity around the world”.
The responsibility of the Council to ensure that peace and security prevail over power struggles and national interests “has never been as urgent, and as indispensable a task, as it is tonight,” said Mr. Grandi. “If you fail – if we fail – it might be too late for us all.”
Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths painted a grim picture of an alarming scale of civilian casualties and infrastructure damage, cutting off access to critical supplies and services amidst “skyrocketing” humanitarian needs in the hardest-hit areas.
Families are separated, the elderly and those with disabilities trapped as aerial attacks and fighting in urban areas disrupt essential services, such as health, electricity, water and sanitation.
“This effectively leaves civilians without the basics for day-to-day life,” said the humanitarian chief, urging all parties to respect international humanitarian law, spare civilians from harm, and avoid using explosive weapons in populated areas.
“The longer this offensive continues, the greater the human cost for civilians”.
Multiplying repercussions
Children will miss school and face a greater risk of physical harm, displacement, and severe emotional distress; and women, so often disproportionately affected by conflict, will be at even greater risk.
And if the economy implodes, humanitarian needs will further exacerbate, creating a ripple effect far beyond Ukraine's borders.
“Already the upheavals in recent days are deepening a pre-existing humanitarian crisis, said Mr. Griffiths, noting that eight “gruelling years of conflict” in Eastern Ukraine had already left three million people in need of humanitarian assistance on both sides of the contact line in the Donbas region.
The Relief Coordinator noted that despite an increased UN humanitarian presence in Ukraine, ongoing fighting and a lack of assurances from the conflict’s parties that humanitarian movements would be protected have “seriously constrained” operations.
“Right now, we urgently need progress if we want to reach more people with aid,” pointing to protection assurances for humanitarian workers and the need for additional resources.
Humanitarian appeal
The senior UN official said that the Secretary-General would launch a humanitarian appeal for those inside Ukraine and a Regional Refugee Response Plan for the situation outside.
“But this is not enough. The lives of millions of civilians are at stake,” flagged Mr. Grandi. Reminding how “brutal, deadly, and protracted urban warfare can be”, he underscored that every effort must be made to de-escalate the conflict, calling for “an immediate cessation of hostilities”.
28 Feb. 2022
We are profoundly concerned about the safety and protection of everyone in Ukraine, UN Rights Experts call for an immediate ceasefire. (OHCHR)
“We are collectively outraged and distressed by the Russian Federation’s aggression on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Use of force by one State against another is fundamentally unacceptable and strikes at the very heart of the object and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.
The consequences of this military attack on the protection and promotion of human rights in Ukraine will be profound and long-lasting and will cause immense suffering and irreparable harm through human rights and humanitarian law violations, forced displacement of civilians and environmental destruction. The consequences will last for generations.
We are profoundly concerned about the safety and protection of everyone in Ukraine and the well-founded fear which now pervades the daily life of every member of that society, and which has forced many to flee their country for safety.
The UN Charter, from which our collective work as experts on human rights flows, was created expressly to settle differences between States and to peacefully prevent armed conflict and protect the right to self-determination. By doing so, it establishes the basis for protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people.
We express our profound dismay at the violations of the right to life, liberty and security that have already occurred. The right to life is the bedrock right of our international legal order and the core human right which enables all other rights to be exercised. We are also profoundly troubled by the impact of the conflict on freedom of assembly, association and expression, including restrictions within the Russian Federation and call for all those arrested and detained to be treated consistently with the Russian Federation’s international human rights obligations.
We strongly urge the Russian Federation to listen to the collective voice of the international community which has unequivocally condemned its military actions as unacceptable to all.
As human rights experts, we urge the Russian Federation to observe and respect the principles of international law including the laws and customs of war related to the protection of the civilian populations, to end these hostilities immediately and unconditionally, and to restore the ability of the Ukrainian people to exercise all of their fundamental rights without military or external interference.”
* The International Criminal Court has confirmed that it is opening an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. In a statement, ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan QC writes:
On 28 February, I announced my decision to seek authorisation to open an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine, on the basis of my Office’s earlier conclusions arising from its preliminary examination, and encompassing any new alleged crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”). In the same statement, I indicated that active investigations by my Office would be significantly expedited if a State Party to the Rome Statute (the “Statute”) were to refer the situation to my Office, as provided in article 14 of the Statute.. I have notified the ICC Presidency a few moments ago of my decision to immediately proceed with active investigations in the Situation. Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced. In total, 39 ICC states have referred atrocities for investigation.
* 19/3/2022: International Court of Justice orders Russia to ‘immediately suspend’ military operations in Ukraine:
Feb. 2022
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) strongly condemns Russia’s order to put Russian nuclear weapons forces on high alert.
ICAN strongly condemns the order by Russian President Vladimir Putin to put his nuclear arsenal in combat readiness amidst his country’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. This is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible, especially during a time of war and high tension. ICAN calls for an immediate ceasefire and retraction of Russian forces from Ukraine.
ICAN urges all nuclear armed states to stand down their nuclear forces and refrain from threatening to use weapons of mass destruction. Any use of nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic humanitarian suffering and the fallout - radioactive, economic, political, will be harming people for generations.
Right now, the dangerous policy of so-called nuclear deterrence is used to enable the continued invasion of Ukraine by Russia. It does not keep the peace, it allows for war to be carried out against Ukrainian people.
Any theory which is based on the willingness to mass murder civilians and is kept in check by little more than sheer luck will eventually lead to a horrific humanitarian catastrophe. That’s what is being risked right now, and it must stop.
In order to protect ourselves from nuclear war, the world must support the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) - the only comprehensive legally-binding prohibition which bans the development, possession, threats of use, and use of nuclear weapons and contains a framework for their verifiable dismantlement.
ICAN calls on all states, including the nuclear-armed states, to join the TPNW and achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons.
* 2/3: UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopts a resolution demanding that Russia immediately end its military operations in Ukraine, with 141 countries voting in favour of the resolution:
* 28/2: UN General Assembly debate (UN WebTV):

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