Providing relief in captured cities is becoming riskier by the day as Russia widens its attack, says Antonio Guterres
The United Nations (UN) will strengthen its financial aid to war-torn Ukraine and allocate an additional amount of $40 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced March 14, 2022.
The funds will help the UN relief teams bring in critical supplies of food, water, medicines and other lifesaving aid into Ukraine. The amount will also be used to provide cash to the needy, he noted.
Apart from loss of lives at a tragic scale, Ukraine suffered widespread destruction of public and health infrastructure in its invasion by Russia, Guterres said. He added:
According to the World Health Organization, at least 24 health facilities have suffered attacks. Hundreds of thousands of people are without water or electricity.
Providing relief in captured cities is becoming riskier by the day as Russia widens its attack, according to the intergovernmental organisation.
At least 1.9 million people are displaced inside the country, and growing numbers are escaping across borders, according to Guterres. “The journey of Ukraine’s displaced people, especially women and children, is exposing them to trafficking risks,” he said, adding that he is grateful to neighbouring countries who have taken in refugees.
The impact of the war, however, will go far beyond the borders of Ukraine, the UN chief noted. The global economy has started to show signs of weakening and may suffer a major blow, according to Guterres.
The biggest impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be on the vulnerable population in developing nations, he added, as their “breadbasket is being bombed”. He added:
Russia and Ukraine represent more than half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and about 30 per cent of the world’s wheat. Ukraine alone provides more than half of the World Food Programme’s wheat supply.
The disruption has resulted in rising costs of food, fuel and fertiliser prices in these regions, Guterres said. “Supply chains are being disrupted. And the costs and delays of transportation of imported goods – when available – are at record levels.”
Africa will be disproportionately affected by the impending food crisis, he said. “Forty-five African and least developed countries import at least one-third of their wheat from Ukraine (or) Russia – 18 of those countries import at least 50 per cent.”
This includes countries like Burkina Faso, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, according to the UN secretary-general.
Most of the developing countries bearing the brunt of the conflict were also majorly hit by the pandemic and further strain on these economies will take away their power to recover, he said.
“Against the backdrop of these immense inter-connected challenges, I am announcing today the establishment of a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the UN Secretariat,” Guterres told the press.
The Deputy Secretary-General will lead an inter-agency steering committee with partners to oversee this effort, he added. The intergovernmental organisation will be consulting with member states willing to take measures to take forward the global emergency response that will be required for these looming crises, the chief executive of UN said.
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