High Commissioner's Statement at the High-Level International Donors' Conference for Ukraine
Prime Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the 10 weeks since the Russian invasion, a third of Ukrainians - as we have heard already - have been forced from their homes. This is the largest human displacement crisis in the world today and it is they – the displaced – that are the focus of UNHCR’s response and also of my quick remarks.
Working under the Government’s leadership in Ukraine, the United Nations as we heard, continues to deliver but not just in the west of the country, but increasingly in the centre and east, to help also those who are affected, but not yet displaced. UNHCR, my organization, is part of this effort. It has expanded its cash assistance programme for IDPs, and stepped up emergency shelter support including collective accommodation. We are also providing targeted protection counselling, psychosocial support and legal aid. But we, all of us, must continue to step up. And we will.
Our discussions with Ukrainian officials also revealed their deep – and very justified - concern for the plight of the 5.7 million Ukrainian refugees.
Ukraine’s neighbours have not only kept their borders open, but have taken a humane, efficient, and effective approach, as I’ve seen myself several times, to sheltering Ukrainians. They deserve our praise and gratitude.
We cannot, however, take for granted this exceptional hospitality.
The European Union (as we heard from EU Commission President a few minutes ago) has played and continues to play a key role, including by granting temporary protection to those fleeing Ukraine. This support must continue and be expanded as host states include refugees in health, education and other social services. Inclusion is the key challenge until people can return home.
UNHCR, alongside the rest of the UN family and 140 partners, helps coordinating international assistance through the Refugee Response Plan and is focusing on key protection issues, especially for children and women at risk of trafficking and exploitation through activities that include cash assistance, information campaigns, and - along with UNICEF - the Blue Dot network.
Please allow me to conclude with four practical asks:
First, step up humanitarian support for Ukrainians wherever they are. Fully funded humanitarian appeals are critical. They are not yet fully funded, so that’s very important.
Second, invest in housing solutions in Ukraine for internally displaced people that provide decent accommodation for the medium term; not temporary camps. This also means cash programmes to expand choices available to IDPs, including enabling them to find their own accommodation.
Third, support the Ukrainian Government in its efforts to enhance shelter repair and reconstruction so that refugees and IDPs can return home voluntarily and with dignity when they are ready, as President Zelenskyy just told us.
And fourth, reinforce states hosting refugees that are actually shouldering the international community’s collective responsibility for hosting refugees.
And finally, and most of all – and immediately – please do all you can to end – to end - this atrocious war.