REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
<Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Geneva, chaired the hybrid briefing, attended by the Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine and the spokespersons and representatives of the World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Populations Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
UKRAINE: 100 Days since the 24 February Russian invasion of Ukraine
Amin Awad, United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, speaking from Kyiv, made the following statement:
“Today we are marking 100 days since the start of the Russian invasion in Ukraine on 24 February; a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations. One hundred days of suffering, devastation, and destruction on a massive scale. One hundred days of unabated warfare, including indiscriminate bombardments terrorizing civilians and shelling of hospitals, schools, and homes. One hundred days of lives lost and people uprooted; the lives of millions shattered. This war’s toll on civilians is unacceptable. This war has no winner.
Let me share with you some sobering statistics:
- At least 15.7 million people in Ukraine are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Numbers are rising by the day as the war continues to ravage; and with winter around the corner, the lives of hundreds of thousands are in peril.
- More than 5 million children had their education suspended – an entire generation whose future hangs in the balance.
- And nearly 14 million people have been forced to flee, about one third of the entire population of Ukraine.
- Others – often the most vulnerable – have not been able to leave, including older people and persons with disabilities. They too need our support. The destruction of civilian infrastructure is at mass-scale. It has not been spared.
- Since the start of the war, more than 260 health facilities have come under attack
- Severe damage to water systems has left millions of people without regular access to water and energy, and with winter coming, risks to people’s lives are severe.
- Explosives now cover wide swathes of the country, posing immense risks to both civilians, imperil humanitarian operations, and impede the resumption of life.
I have seen the utter devastation first-hand. 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 have seen people returning to nothing. With nearly 14 million people displaced, durable solutions cannot wait. In a remarkable show of resilience, millions of people are returning now. Going home, after having been forced to flee, is one of the most natural human desires. The United Nations, together with our humanitarian and development partners, must be ready to support their return in a lasting, sustainable way.
The impact of the war in Ukraine across the region and the world is profound and far-reaching. The impasse on the Black Sea imperils global food and commodity security. Food insecurity is set to become even more worrying, with 1.7 billion people at risk of increased poverty due to the crisis. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian economy is projected to contract this year by up to 45%. A solution to this impasse demands urgent support and requires political will. Unblocking the trade routes in the Black Sea must remain the priority. Failure to open those ports will result in famine, destabilization and mass migration around the world.
Here is how the UN has been assisting:
- The UN and our more than 260 humanitarian partners (many of them local partners) have scaled up at record speed and deployed additional staff across the country to support the humanitarian response.
- We have so far reached some 8 million people with some form of assistance across all the country’s 24 oblasts, including in besieged and hard-to-reach cities.
- We provided safe passage for some 600 civilians from Mariupol, including those trapped in the Azovstahl Steel Plant, in a difficult and dangerous joint humanitarian operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- We tirelessly sought humanitarian access to besieged places, although this remains very, very challenging.
- We concertedly supported the Government in humanitarian mine action efforts.
We will do more. But let me underscore that this is not a typical humanitarian operation: Ukraine is a country with a functional government and systems. The role of the UN is not to replace this system, it is to support the Government to support its people – and that is what we have been doing. And we will continue to scale up our efforts, relentlessly seeking humanitarian access to reach people in the hardest hit areas, while paving the way for lasting solutions for the displaced. With one third of Ukraine’s population uprooted, durable solutions to their displacement are indispensable for the country’s recovery. We also prepare for winter with urgency. Needs will be of unprecedented scale and energy capacities in Ukraine have diminished due to the war impact. Winters here are harsh and the UN together with its partners, and supported by Member States, are preparing. This is our priority. Today we mark a tragic milestone. And we know what is needed the most: an end to this war. The UN Secretary-General’s offer to act as a broker of peace stands.”
Responding to questions Mr. Awad said, regarding the exporting of Ukraine food, that this was a complex issue. Russia was under sanctions, and although food was not part of the sanctions, transactions were constrained by them. The Secretary General was working on three separate tracks to unblock sanctions and develop a package deal to allow both Ukrainian food and Russian fertilisers to be exported. 1.5 billion people were in need of the food and fertilisers. There was also a negotiation on the access to and governance of the Black Sea, which was mined. There were many pieces that needed to come in line. Mr. Awad said he believed there was goodwill and that would lead somewhere. Otherwise, the situation would continue to be dire around the world and four billion people could be facing food shortages. The war in Ukaine had contributed to inflation and led to the collapse of chain supply systems around the world.
On winterisation, Mr Awad said that millions of people would face a hard time. The whole UN country team in Ukraine would be working with donors to establish a roadmap. Many of the energy plants had been destroyed, train tracks had suffered damage. Alternative sources of energies needed to be identified and procurement by the international community needed to be placed now, so as to to import these materials into Ukraine on time. This was nothing he had seen in his entire UN career; this was the biggest winterisation challenge he had ever seen, and Mr. Awad called for the G7 donors to weigh in and provide assistance. Contingency plan went until 31 December; by the end of August, this would be the second phase of the appeal. The third phase would cover all the remaining needs. Should the war stop, these contingency resources could be used to assist with the first phases of reintegration, reconstruction, and redevelopment.
Responding to questions on negotiations, Mr. Awad said the Black Sea needed to be demilitarized. There were other transactional aspects which needed to be solved, and political demands of Russia which needed to be responded to. This was a very complex issue. He was not in a position to disclose information about negotiations on exports with Russia, but there was no clear-cut solution. Sanctions made the solution to this problem quite difficult. A lot of the negotiations were still confidential.
Regarding the visit of the President of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union to the President of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Mr. Awad said that this could help unblocking the ports. Food shortage required to work with the African Union and with countries and institutions in the Middle East. Africa was at the forefront, and the President’s visit was timely for the negotiations. Mr. Awad said there were positive elements, and he was optimistic that a breakthrough in the food situation could be seen at some point.
Regarding a question on food export banning in other countries, Mr. Awad said this was a problem. There was a nervousness around the world, and there were no winners, but many losers if the food crisis were to continue. The one solution was to remove blockades and allow Ukraine and Russia to export food to the rest of the world.
Mr. Awad reiterated that at least 15.7 million people in Ukraine were now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection.
World Food Programme
Matthew Hollingworth, Emergency Coordinator for World Food Programme (WFP) in Ukraine, speaking from Kyiv, where a country office for the WFP had just opened, made the following statement:
“The WFP returned to Ukraine when this round of the war started. In reality, the WFP shouldn’t be in Ukraine. This is a country we buy food from and a country we feed the world from. This is a country where we contract young, tech savvy people to design our digital platform that feed the world with our cash programs around the world. This shouldn’t be a country where we have to provide humanitarian assistance. Because of the war, we return to the breadbasket of the world where people are having to become significant recipients of humanitarian assistance, where hungry people are standing in breadlines. There is something horribly wrong with the world today, which finds me in Ukraine.
More than 5 million people have lost their jobs due to the war, and one in three households around the country are now food insecure; a figure which rises to one in two in the provinces in the east and south most affected by the fighting. In the last three months since our return, we have scaled up to feed more than 5.5 million people, both with the cash transfers and with food that we are buying here in Ukraine, and also regionally. We are having to provide ready-to-eat food in the east of the country, as half a million people don’t have access to electricity today as a direct impact of the war and cannot cook. They have lost their jobs so they cannot have access or afford to access what foods are available in shops.
Last month, through the agreement signed with the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy, we reached over 1 million people, with more than 70 million dollars of cash assistance, pushing that cash into the market place, supporting those businesses that continue to try and work, and supporting farmers who are trying to sell their products. The WFP is trying to work through local companies to ensure that businesses do not go out of business. The country has suffered enough. The 30-day rations handed over to 400,000 people in the past month, we spent 6 million dollars locally to provide for. Again, it is about trying to stabilize the country, restore and sustain institutions which are more sophisticated and more capable than any other country I’ve worked with in the past 20 years with the United Nations.
In terms of biggest challenges, it is getting into the hardest-to-reach and war-torn affected areas around the frontline. Nevertheless, 36 percent of everything done in the past four months was to support those areas in the country. But it is not enough. Clearly, we need those continuous appeals to be heard, for unimpeded humanitarian access into those areas in the country. Not just to provide food, but to provide water, health care, nutrition, essential supplies and services. This means daily constant access, which is something we don’t have, but we need, in order to support those people who deserve and demand our support.
This war, we would like it to end immediately - the enormous global ramifications, global food insecurity, global food inflation if it doesn’t end, if food cannot leave the country, if the Black Sea ports do not open. The Black Sea ports were the silver bullet when it came to fighting global famine and global hunger. But if that silver bullet cannot be found, we also need alliances to support overland deliveries of food exporting from the country, through the EU, through the North and through the Baltic, and if possible, through the Black Sea. Realistically, we know this war is going to continue, for quite some time to come. Everybody is going to lose in terms of what this country is already facing and has lost in terms of jobs, safety, and security.”
Responding to questions, Mr. Hollingworth said that in terms of the preparation for the food price inflation the world was already facing, there was a need to look globally to where 47 million people around the world were falling into acute food insecurity levels - and the WFP was trying to show the world that this could be mitigated. Additional support was needed to enable cross boarder deliveries through Ukraine and the European Union to reach global markets. There was no simple solution other than enable Ukraine to export the food, that fed 400 million people in 2021.
Mr. Hollingworth said the silver bullet which would make the biggest difference would be if Ukraine’s ports could be opened; previously the country was exporting 5 million tonnes of food by sea. There were other avenues being explored, through European and other boarders and through the Black Sea by other means. There were options to create new industries and new jobs in the country, and to turn the raw materials into processed goods within the country, creating greater levels of economic value, and bringing down the levels of food storage. The biggest solution had to come from the negotiations around the Black Sea ports. WFP was looking at every means of getting food out of the country and was entirely supportive of a system to negotiate a breakthrough which was hoped would be imminent.
World Health Organisation
Jarno Habicht, World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine, speaking from Lviv, made the following statement:
“Since February 24 war has increased the need for health care while reducing the system’s ability to provide services, particularly in areas of active conflict. As of June 2, there have been 269 verified attacks on health, killing at least 76 people and injuring 59.
Some health facilities have been destroyed, while others have been overwhelmed by people seeking care for trauma and injuries resulting directly from the war. To better assess needs and respond quickly, WHO has established hubs in areas close to the conflict, such as Dnipro. The war has caused a massive increase in psychological harm and distress. Throughout the country, health care professionals report that the most common request now is help, to deal with sleeplessness, anxiety, grief and psychological pain. WHO is working with the office of Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine to develop a nationwide mental health programme accessible by all.
WHO has responded to the changed health needs in Ukraine by increasing numbers of staff and repurposing systems including our logistics system. This has enabled delivery of over 543 metric tonnes of medical supplies and equipment to the country which are being distributed mostly in the east, south and northern oblasts where need is currently greatest.
Another major need is training to deal with the effects of war- trauma surgery, mass casualties, burns and chemical exposure. Since February 24, WHO has trained more than 1300 healthcare workers on those topics. Along with this, WHO has been working with the Ukraine Public Health Centre to strengthen disease surveillance and laboratory diagnostics, and with local authorities to build back vaccination programmes and essential health services.
Health financing: building on better. We are working on health financing and health system strengthening: this was a system under reform with great momentum achieving a lot rapidly: this has now stalled but this should be no more than a stumble, not a fall.
A massive response like this costs money. WHO recently launched an updated appeal for $147.5million, to support Ukraine’s worsening humanitarian need, provide immediate healthcare delivery and help the health system stay resilient for the longer term. Of this total, $80million is needed for in-country support, such as distributing medicines and delivering vital healthcare services and a further $67.5m is required to assist refugee-receiving and hosting countries, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Moldova and Romania.”
Responding to questions, Mr. Habicht said that appeals needed to be responded to very quickly, for action to be taken this year. A humanitarian response needed to be complemented with a fast recovery, and development funding needed to be scaled up to complement everything happening in Ukraine. On COVID, a surveillance system was in place and there was no information on a country-wide covid outbreak. The WHO were aware of cases of COVID in places with displaced people and treatment was available. It was encouraging to see COVID vaccines being scaled up, and more vaccines being delivered, as was happening before the war. It was anticipated that malnutrition would be seen in the coming months. There were many things which could be done to support children, which included regular vaccination, which was taking place.
United Nations Populations Fund
Jamie Nadal for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), speaking from a railway station in Lviv, where UNFPA were distributing hygiene kits to women, made the following statement:
“The suffering caused by wars and crises around the world has, predominantly, a female face – Ukraine is no different. One hundred days of war in Ukraine has taken a heavy toll on millions of women and girls. They are at increased risk of life-threatening sexual and physical violence, trafficking, exploitation, and abuse, and denied access to essential services and goods. Many of the millions of women who have fled Ukraine or are displaced within the country, have lost their homes, their loved ones, and are now the sole provider for their families. Pregnancies, childbirth, menstruation, and gender-based violence are not put on hold for floods, hurricanes or wars, but at a time when women and girls’ needs increase, their access to life-saving services and support may radically diminish.
UNFPA estimated at the start of the war that there were 265,000 pregnant women in Ukraine. For pregnant women lacking essential maternal health care, childbirth can end in tragedy. UNFPA has received reports and heard testimonies from doctors about deliveries, including caesarean sections, taking place in the basements of maternity hospitals, in shelters, and metro stations, while others took place in hard-to-reach areas with gynecologists giving remote, online instructions during childbirth to save the lives of both mother and newborn. Anxiety and stress are also taking their toll on pregnant women placing them at higher risk of miscarriages, preterm labor and premature births.
Displacement brings additional dangers. The reports of sexual violence, including rapes in war-affected areas, have been harrowing – and it is vital that the International Criminal Court and other UN mechanisms conduct their work so that there can be accountability. Living in the shadow of violence, however, is something that sadly Ukrainian women know all too well. Even before the current crisis two-thirds of women had experienced some form of gender-based violence.
UNFPA has been on the ground identifying and responding to the needs of women and girls, and working closely with partners, including the Office of the Vice-Prime Minister for European and Euro Atlantic Integration and the Ministry of Social Policies. We work around the clock to ensure that women in Ukraine and in host communities can continue to give birth safely, that preventive and protective services for survivors of gender-based violence are restored, and that referral pathways are strengthened. This includes comprehensive medical services for survivors of rape, and psychosocial support so that they can deal with their trauma and take small steps towards rebuilding their lives.
To date we have distributed over 59 metric tons of reproductive health supplies to 29 hospitals in war-torn cities across Ukraine. This is enough to meet the priority reproductive health needs of nearly 4 million people, including women who may need emergency obstetric care. As social and protection systems are eroded in Ukraine – we have deployed a first batch of 24 mobile teams, which include psychologists and social workers, to 12 regions across Ukraine. Thirty shelters, crisis rooms and day care centers remain open for displaced women and survivors of violence; and the national, toll-free gender-based violence hotline is still taking calls and requests for help. However, much more needs to be done to ensure all women and girls in need have access to these life-saving services anywhere and at any time.
It is for this reason that just this week, UNFPA launched the Aurora online platform. Aurora [Dawn] provides specialized psychotherapy for survivors of gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence. The platform will ensure that survivors can access quality, specialized assistance from anywhere in Ukraine, including from non-government-controlled areas and host countries.”
Responding to questions, Mr. Nadal said out of the 67 facilities which used to provide protection services prior to the war, most of them were now non-operational. There was a need to rebuild these services. This was something which would require further investment, and UNFPA’s resources were not anywhere close to where they needed to be.
Regarding malnutrition, Mr. Nadal did not have exact data, however had visited maternity hospitals which reported that the number of miscarriages had increased exponentially, among pregnant women, which could be due to malnutrition, in addition to stress and other war-related issues.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Karolina Lindholm Billing, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Ukraine, speaking from Vinnitsya, made the following statement:
“I have spent the last weeks in Kyiv, Poltava, Dnipro, Zaporizhia, and now in Vinnytsya, meeting internally displaced people, local authorities, emergency services and volunteers in the host communities. The situation is very fluid, and the outlook for the innocent victims of this brutal and senseless war is highly uncertain. People are still fleeing fighting, others remain in the places they fled to in the last 100 days; some are already returning to rebuild their homes. I also met some people who had returned, then decided it was unsafe and had to flee again.
In Dnipro, I saw buses arriving with people who had evacuated from locations like Bakhmut. They were visibly weak and shaken. Most arrivals were elderly, had difficulty walking alone and needed help. These are people with next to nothing. For some, this is the second time they have fled for their lives since 2014. They need immediate, emergency humanitarian support: somewhere to sleep, clothes, hygiene items, food, cash assistance and - importantly - psychological first aid and counselling.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has so far, with partners, assisted over 1.2 million people across Ukraine. That includes 233,000 reached with protection counselling and services; 500,000 with essential items such as mattresses, blankets and solar lamps in areas with no electricity; and 73,400 have received vital assistance through humanitarian convoys delivered to hard-hit areas. We have also scaled up the accommodation capacity of 182 reception and collective centers, so people who have just fled have a dignified and warm place to sleep for a short while. This week, I spoke with many IDPs living in temporary reception facilities. Tonight, they have somewhere warm to sleep, but they don’t know about tomorrow or the months to come. As one elderly displaced woman I met yesterday in Koziatin, Vinnytsya oblast, said: “Our main question is – where to go now?” She knew their stay in that reception centre would be temporary.
In Dnipro, I met 60-year-old Iryna in the dormitory of the State Academy of Physical Education and Sports. She had fled with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and their two children from the shelling in Kharkiv. They have been trying to find an apartment to rent in Dnipro, but are struggling to afford one. Iryna said: “We all want to go home, but Kharkiv is still a dangerous area. And because of the children, we can’t go. One of my grandsons has already started to have neurological reactions to the stress – his face at times gets twisted.’’
At a dormitory in Poltava, I met people who had returned to Kharkiv, only to find that it was not yet possible to start rebuilding their homes or resume work, so they headed back – again - to Poltava. As we continue trying to reach those cowering in bomb shelters in areas under heavy shelling with emergency assistance, we are also scaling up support to help the displaced in the medium to longer-term; to lay the ground for recovery and durable solutions.
Protection support must be at the center of our response, as the risks and needs are mounting. Everyone is traumatized. Psychosocial counselling is essential for recovery. The needs are huge. Some have fled without their ID or civil documents and need help to receive new ones to access rights and services. Risks of exploitation, abuse and harmful coping strategies are also increasing, as destitution rises. Several people I spoke with told of people returning to their homes, even in areas in Luhansk oblast, as they simply cannot afford the expense of displacement.
UNHCR is also ramping up programmes that will help people with damaged houses to repair roofs, windows, doors and walls. In Donetsk and Luhansk oblast, and in areas around Kyiv, we have provided emergency shelter kits to prevent the rain from pouring in. So far, 24,300 households have received shelter kits. We are also working to support the refurbishment and repurposing of buildings that can be turned into medium-term collective centers, for people who need to move from temporary reception centers but cannot afford to rent an apartment. But this will not be enough. Winter is coming. So UNHCR, as the shelter and NFI cluster lead, is preparing with partners an overview of the specific types of support vulnerable families will need this winter, to complement the other assistance that the national authorities, the UN and our humanitarian partners are providing.”
Responding to questions, Ms. Lindholm Billing said specific interventions for women would include vouchers and cash for families to cover the cost of heating and utilities as well as high thermal blankets, appliances such as stoves and heaters. A key priority was to scale up the repairs of homes which had been damaged and to expand the capacity of collective centers and the reach of the cash-for-rent programme, so that people who had somewhere to live could stay there in the winter.
Ms. Lindholm Billing said that in most protracted situations, needs increased over time. Having to pay rent and being without salary for a prolonged period, meant people’s resilience and their ability to cover their basic needs were reduced, and the risk of exploitation and harmful-coping strategies increased. Therefore, there would be a need for increased support. It was estimated that there were 38.6 million sqm of damaged housing, and close to 34 billion dollars’ worth of damage from the war so far. The total damage would only be seen moving forward.
International Organization for Migration
Stephen Rogers, Ukraine Deputy chief of mission, speaking from Kyiv, made the following statement:
“The latest survey by the International Organization for Migration revealed growing needs of displaced and returnee populations in Ukraine. IOM recorded a continuous upward trend in the number of people returning to home regions after being displaced, with estimates reaching almost 4.5 million persons, as of 23 May. The most significant scale of returns was registered in the northern regions (1.7 million) and in Kyiv (941,000). Following the retaking of these territories under control of Ukrainian Government, people are mostly returning to large cities and their suburbs (59 per cent, while only 17 per cent went back to rural areas). While two-thirds of those who returned home from other locations in Ukraine intend to stay in their places of residence, more than a third of them indicated that they still felt unsafe, and 9 per cent were ready to leave again due to the war.
As many people return home to the regions that saw intense fighting, their needs for shelter repairs become increasingly urgent. Over a third of returnees in central regions of Ukraine and 21 per cent of returnees in the north reported being in need of reconstruction materials.
The number of people remaining in internal displacement in Ukraine as of 23 May was 7 million. It is 11 per cent down, compared to 3 May, and represents a first-ever reduction in the number of displaced persons since the start of hostilities.
IOM is concerned that there is a severe livelihood crisis among displaced Ukrainians. As the war has reached a grave milestone of 100 days, 64 per cent of people who were employed before displacement have lost their jobs now. Every fifth displaced person reported having no income. Due to a lack or significant decrease in income, the largest number of displaced (over 77 per cent) say they would need cash assistance to meet their most pressing needs in accessing goods and services. Through its flagship data collection tool, Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), IOM gathers and analyzes data on the mobility and vulnerabilities of displaced persons in Ukraine to ensure that assistance provided to affected populations is responsive to their needs.
Since 24 February, up to half a million Ukrainians have received direct assistance from IOM in Ukraine, including food, non-food and hygiene items, cash, mental health and psychosocial support, or benefitted from information campaigns to help prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Responding to questions, Mr. Rogers said that for the government of Ukraine, there were around 30,000 residential buildings destroyed. There had been a severe fuel shortage crisis, which had hampered logistics and industries. The UN aimed to address these points to ensure that industries and businesses could get back on their feet. It would be tough otherwise and developing gains of the last 20 years could be lost.
United Nations Development Programme
Manal Fouani, acting United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ukraine Resident Representative, speaking from Lviv, made the following statement:
“We are one hundred days into this war, and 20 years of socio-economic achievements in Ukraine are at risk of being lost due to the war. Just before the war started, 100 days ago, Ukraine was on steady progress on achieving 15 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Its greatest success was in reducing poverty. However, because of the war, UNDP projections estimate that the figure of 2.5 percent poverty rate, could rise to 90 percent by the end of the year if the war continues. The government was estimating more than 600 million dollars’ worth of losses.
Ukraine is a big country with a population of about 44 million, nearly one-third of whom are internally displaced or living as refugees abroad. That is nearly 15 million people who have been forced to flee their homes, schools and business by the violence. Of this total, 7 million remain in Ukraine, displaced. Many are women and children who have moved to safer parts of central and western Ukraine. Such large number of people on the move is creating additional burdens for a Government that is struggling to provide adequate services for them – housing, social protection, employment, and other services such as medical, physiological and legal support. It’s our ultimate priority to invest resources to help the Government of Ukraine to continue functioning and providing service for its citizens.
- The war has caused over 20% of Ukrainian businesses to shut down completely, while 65% are forced to operate well below capacity – Advanter Group, May 2022.
- Almost 4.5 million persons returned home from displacement – IOM, May 2022.
- 40% of IDPS reported that they live on less than a minimum wage (less than 200 euros) – IOM, May 2022.
- 64% of IDPs reported having lost their job due to the war – IOM, May 2022.
Because of the unexploded ordnance, landmines and war-torn buildings at risk of collapsing, it is clear the dangers and threats of this war will continue for long after the guns fall silent and the smoke clears. As previously occupied areas become accessible, we are seeing thousands of explosive devices strewn about the towns, posing immediate danger for civilians. According to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, almost 300,000 sq. km of territory are potentially mine contaminated and in need of inspection. The results of these instances were leading to a lot of handicapped persons. As of this week, the State Emergency Services has cleared 127,393 explosive devices in Ukraine – on the territory of over 28,714 sq.km. This is probably just the tip of the iceberg, with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands yet to be discovered.
While mapping and removing explosive devices is a top priority, the debris and rubble from destroyed infrastructure and buildings could pose an enormous risk to people returning home. In Bucha alone, our teams have assessed 210,000 tons of rubble that require removal. This is relatively smaller in comparison to Irpin and Hostemel where UNDP will assist in the mine action and debris removal. Some buildings need to be demolished and the areas made safe for reconstruction and the return of the people who fled at the start of the war. All this rubble will be sorted, processed, screened for contaminants and the reused for quick repairs and green reconstruction activities. This will save costs on trucks movement and further repairs but also lessens the impact on the natural resources of Ukraine, injecting money back into the economy and building back the cities they lost better and greener than before.
Even as the war continues, UNDP is working closely with the Government to put in place the foundations for recovery and reconstruction – recovery that is green, just, inclusive and digital. UNDP is providing technical support to the new Government Recovery and Development Plan, developed by the Office of the President, Parliament, and other government bodies. This plan will be presented at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, on 4-5 July 2022. UNDP also is supporting an assessment of war induced damages and helping the Government to coordinate the reconstruction and recovery efforts. The focus is on laying the groundwork for Ukraine’s social and economic recovery, alongside the humanitarian response, so that the country’s hard-won development gains can be preserved as much as possible.”
Responding to questions, Ms. Fouani said almost a month ago, the cost of the war was estimated at 600 million dollars, and this figure was growing.
Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), gave a brief overview of a statement by the UN Secretary General, which welcomed the agreement by the Government of Yemen and the Houthis to renew the truce in Yemen for an additional two months under the same terms as the original agreement.
Liz Throssell, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), read the following statement:
“We have frequently briefed about the devastating impact that Yemen’s armed conflict, which began in 2015, has had on civilians. But for the past two months, a truce has meant the people of Yemen have seen violence and hostilities decrease. It is therefore all the more welcome from our human rights perspective that parties to the conflict – the internationally recognized government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, and the Ansar Allah movement – have now agreed to extend the truce for a further two months.
Between 2 April and 1 June, the UN Human Rights Office in Yemen, as part of its ongoing work monitoring and documenting civilian casualties, gathered preliminary information indicating that at least 19 civilians were killed and 32 injured in some 20 incidents of conflict-related violence. The majority of these casualties were caused by landmines, including improvised mines, and explosive remnants of war. This underscores the threat these devices pose to civilians, often over long periods of time, causing death or serious injury. Children are especially at risk. From 2 April to 1 June, three children were reported to have been killed and another 12 injured in this manner.
Given the widespread use of landmines, despite their indiscriminate effects, and the presence of unexploded ordnance, particularly in Hudaydah, this trend is unfortunately expected to continue as people venture into contaminated areas. We urge all parties to the conflict to cooperate with, and provide full and safe access to, humanitarian demining teams. We also call on all regional and international actors involved in the Yemeni conflict to ensure that effective demining operations and mine awareness activities, particularly in schools, are adequately funded. Despite the truce, our Office recorded four incidents of shooting by snipers that resulted in the killing of three civilians, including one woman, and serious injury to two civilians, including a boy, in areas under the control of the Government close to the frontlines in Al Dalee and Ta’izz governorates.
Two incidents were also documented in which weapons fired from drones injured four civilians, including a girl –- again in areas controlled by the Government close to the frontlines. We urge the parties to make serious efforts to ensure that roads into the city of Ta’izz are reopened. Ta’izz has essentially been under siege by Ansar Allah since 2015. There is a current dire humanitarian situation there. People face huge challenges in getting water, buying food and accessing medical services. Many in Ta’izz, as in other areas of Yemen, have experienced great trauma during the conflict from high levels of armed violence, and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including attacks targeting civilians.
There are reports that parties to the conflict may be regrouping in case military operations resume. We call on them to adhere to the terms of the truce in good faith and to refrain entirely from recruitment campaigns aimed at bringing children into their ranks – an unlawful practice that contravenes the commitments made by all parties. The UN Human Rights Office will continue to monitor and document the harm caused to civilians by residual conflict-related violence and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
Responding to questions, Ms. Throssell said that as sent out in the action plan, there were close to 3,500 children who had been verified as recruited in the conflict in Yemen. Regarding civilian casualties, the conflict in Yemen had evolved and the security situation had worsened, making it difficult for OHCHR to follow their strict methodology which involved in-person collection. Colleagues in Yemen were working on a review of the data and an approach which would allow information to be gathered in a safe and consistent way. This was a key part of the work to document the violence and would inform the organization’s public reporting.
Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), on behalf of the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria, announced that the eighth session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee concluded today. The Office of the Special Envoy would communicate any relevant information at the end of the session.
The following press conferences would take place this week:
Tuesday, 7 June at 12 p.m.
Opening of the 2022 Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
Speakers: Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; Rémi Nono Womdim, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention
Wednesday, 8 June at 10 a.m.
Presentation of the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Speaker: Ambassador Federico Villegas, President of the UN Human Rights Council
Thursday, 9 June at 12 p.m.
World Investment Report 2022 – International Tax Reforms and Sustainable Investment
Speakers: Rebeca Grynspan, UNCTAD Secretary-General; James Zhan, Director, UNCTAD Division on Investment and Enterprise
Ms. Vellucci said that today (June 3) was World Bicycle Day, and June 4 marked the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, while June 5 was World Environment Day – the Secretary-General’s message had been distributed to the journalists.