KYIV – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has warned of dramatic humanitarian suffering throughout Ukraine and worsening conditions as war-affected civilians suffer in the depths of winter.
Grandi wrapped up his week-long visit to the country late yesterday, his fourth since the full-scale Russian invasion two years ago, reaching some of the most destroyed and damaged parts of Ukraine, including areas affected by an increase in aerial attacks that have recently killed and wounded civilians and damaged homes and civilian infrastructure.
He appealed in the strongest terms for much more international humanitarian support to the country, including to those displaced by the horrific violence and who are subjected to the harsh winter.
“The fighting has escalated and the humanitarian situation in the country is dramatic and urgent. Millions have been forced to flee the war and Russian attacks, and they are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance,” said Grandi. “Under the strong leadership of the Government, the United Nations and partners – especially Ukrainian organisations – have been doing all that they can to help, but without much more international support and funding, Ukrainian civilians will continue to suffer.”
Throughout his visit, including to Odesa, Kryvyi Rih, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Kyiv, Grandi was humbled by the efforts of ordinary Ukrainians who, despite the war and the hardship, refuse to give up and are returning to their homes, rebuilding and recovering in the midst of this awful war.
UNHCR continues to support those who are displaced within the country and is stepping up its help to those choosing to return to their areas of origin, including by launching a ‘Ukraine is Home’ platform, with important up-to-date information for refugees and internally displaced people.
“Ukrainian resilience remains strong and inspiring,” Grandi said while surveying the neighbourhood of Irpin, which is being rebuilt with UNHCR support. “But their fortitude cannot be taken for granted and the international community must step up and help with both humanitarian and recovery support – and must do so now!”
Grandi also paid tribute to the Government’s leadership and coordination of aid, adding, “The cooperation with the Government continues to go from strength to strength. UNHCR has been in the country for 30 years and we will stay with Ukraine and the people as long as it takes.”
In the past two years, UNHCR and its partners, almost all of which are Ukrainian organizations, have reached millions of people – more than 4.3 million in 2022 and 2.6 million in 2023 – with assistance and support.
More than 27,500 homes across the country have been rebuilt or repaired, and more than 270,000 Ukrainians have received emergency shelter kits allowing them to fix light damage to their homes. More than $470 million has been distributed directly to people as cash assistance, while last year alone more than 178,000 people received legal support to help them obtain civil documents damaged or lost due to the war; often a precursor to being able to access services and other forms of assistance.
If funding is available, UNHCR plans to deliver almost $600 million worth of assistance to reach 2.7 million Ukrainians in 2024.