STORY: Ukraine Update – UNHCR, WHO, WFP
TRT: 2 min 30s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 19 April 2022 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Ukraine: aid agencies warn that humanitarian situation is worsening further
UN aid agencies and partners said on Tuesday that they continue to mobilise inside Ukraine in an effort to help the country’s most vulnerable people, amid ongoing devastating Russian shelling and attacks on health care facilities and personnel.
The development follows a renewed ceasefire call from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, whose spokesperson said that he was “deeply concerned by the continuing attacks on Ukrainian cities across the country, including most recently Lviv, Dnipro, Kharkiv and Mykolaiv, which are resulting in numerous civilian casualties and destruction in residential areas, as well as civilian infrastructure”.
Women, children and disabled people have also continued to flee all parts of Ukraine seven weeks since the Russian invasion, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said, adding that it was key that borders remained open to those seeking shelter. “The latest numbers we have are (that) about 4.9 million refugees are fleeing Ukraine since 24 February,” spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told journalists in Geneva. “We are watching with concern to see what will happen, but it’s quite alarming that just in the space of a few weeks we are approaching five million refugees from Ukraine, which we’ve said right at the start, with the pace of these movements, this is the fastest-growing and one of the largest refugee crises we are seeing in in Europe since the Second World War and this is what it really continues to look like.”
As efforts continue to secure agreements for humanitarian access to all parts of Ukraine, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) explained that it was doing its utmost to pre-position aid and deliver lifesaving supplies and equipment to strategic areas.
“WHO has now delivered 218 metric tonnes of emergency and medical supplies to Ukraine…132 metric tonnes have reached their intended destinations in the east and north of the country,” said Bhanu Bhatnagar, speaking from Lviv in west Ukraine.
The WHO official explained that diesel generators were to be dispatched on Tuesday from a Lviv warehouse to hospitals in Kharkiv and Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts in eastern Ukraine where heavy fighting has disrupted the power supply. Mariupol health facilities were also due to receive two generators and another was planned for Severodonetsk, where power supply is limited or non-existent.
Once delivered, the generators will facilitate surgery, trauma and emergency care, internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics and treat infectious diseases, Mr. Bhatnagar explained, stressing that even a momentary power failure could have “serious consequences for patients”, for example those needing medical oxygen.
“We will only move the generators to their final destinations when we can ensure the safety of our personnel and the precious cargo they are transporting,” the WHO official continued, noting that there are now only 10 oxygen plants across the country which supply hospitals and health services.
Attacks on health care in Ukraine have also continued to threaten the lives of patients and professionals, the WHO spokesperson said, with a total of 137 confirmed attacks since 24 February.
“Of … 137 verified attacks that we have confirmed thus far, 132 of them have impacted health facilities; 16 of them impacted transport like ambulance, 24 have impacted personnel, 12, patients, 27 of them have impacted supplies and two have impacted warehouses,” Mr. Bhatnagar said, adding that one confirmed attack could have multiple impacts on different aspects of health care in Ukraine.
In the besieged city of Mariupol, where Mr Guterres’s spokesperson said that the UN chief was “greatly concerned by the continuing appalling humanitarian situation” amid “unrelenting” Russian shelling, the UN World Food Programme reiterated that securing safe access in and out of the city remained critical.
About a month ago, an estimated 260,000 people were believed to be left inside Mariupol, excluding Ukrainian military personnel, but now the estimates are somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000, said Jakob Kern, WFP Emergency Coordinator for Ukraine.
This number of people highlighted the need for sustained humanitarian access, he insisted.
“A city of Mariupol - 100,000 people - would probably need about two to three trucks a day, so just food alone, not you know, now just the other items. So it’s not the question of going with 10 trucks once a month, that’s not going to, to cut it. So, these processes are important and as I said, it needs agreement from all sides, and so far, we haven’t managed to get that.”