STORY: Ukraine Crisis Update – OCHA, IOM, OHCHR, ICRC
TRT: 3 mins 34s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 8 March 2022 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Ukraine crisis now ‘apocalyptic’, warn humanitarians in call for safe access
On day 13 of the conflict in Ukraine and amid rising numbers of civilian casualties, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet repeated her ceasefire call, as humanitarians described on Tuesday as “apocalyptic”.
Amid dire reports of continued shelling and use of multiple rocket launch systems on Ukrainian cities, the UN humanitarian coordinating office, OCHA, insisted on the need to urgently establish a working system to ensure safe passage to get civilians out and aid workers in.
“You need to have clarity on the route. It needs to be a route which is safe. You need to have timing for movements,” said Jens Laerke, OCHA spokesperson. “You need to have contact numbers for those running the convoys in and out. You need to know the purpose of each movement. And you need to have a hotline in case it doesn't work.”
Ongoing UN-led efforts to reach an agreement with both sides involved in the military offensive instigated by Russia on 24 February have continued, Mr. Laerke continued.
“OCHA now has a team in place since yesterday in Moscow to liaise with the authorities there, including with the Minister of Defence, to bring the system of deconfliction forward. They met for the first time yesterday and they're meeting again today.”
Nearly two weeks into the crisis, 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, 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's, is it 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 health care 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), claiming nine lives and injuring 16 - some of them health workers.
“These attacks are a violation of international humanitarian law,” Mr. Jasarevic said, as he echoed UN 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 health care facilities in these areas, not only because of security, but also because of damaged infrastructure.”
According to the UN rights office, OHCHR, at least 1,207 civilian casualties have been recorded and confirmed since 24 February, including 406 people killed and 801 injured, “although the actual figures are likely to be much higher”, said spokesperson Liz Throssell.
Most civilian casualties are the result of “airstrikes and explosive weapons used by Russian forces with wide area effects, including heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems”, she added, noting that hundreds of residential buildings in cities including Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mariupol and Kyiv have been “damaged and destroyed…raising huge concerns…that indeed the principles of distinction and proportionality are clearly not being met.”
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.”