STORY: Ukraine Update - WHO
TRT: 1 min 29s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 3 May 2022 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Mariupol steel works convoy: UN health agency ready ‘for whatever is needed’
UN humanitarians said on Tuesday that they were standing ready to help receive a group of evacuees from the heavily damaged Azovstal steel works complex in the embattled Ukrainian city of Mariupol, more than two months since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.
“We do not know what to expect …on this convoy but we are all of us, the health system, MSF is here with us and other NGOs and volunteers, all ready for the, whatever is needed,” said Dr Dorit Nizan, World Health Organization (WHO) Incident Manager for Ukraine, speaking from a reception centre in Zaporizhzhia, hundreds of miles to the north of Mariupol.
Confirmation came on Sunday from the UN aid coordinating office OCHA that the operation to evacuate desperate civilians from the vast steel plant was under way, coordinated by the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and “parties to the conflict”.
According to news reports, more than 100 civilians were allowed to leave in the first phase of the operation. Many others have already arrived in Zaporizhzhia from villages and towns to the west of Mariupol, Dr Nizan said.
Although the majority of these arrivals had only minor injuries requiring medical care, mental health linked to the trauma of the war “is a big issue” which will require care and support in the longer term, the WHO official explained.
“We are already receiving people, mainly mothers and children from Mariupol and its vicinity. So these people continue coming and I don’t know if you can see in the background, but cars are coming with volunteers from the region here, Zaporizhzhia, that are driving them from the contact line.”
Before the Russian invasion on 24 February, Mariupol’s population numbered around 500,000. Today, around 100,000 are believed to remain in the battered city, the WHO official continued.
Since the start of the war, the UN health agency has delivered 382 tonnes of medical supplies to Ukraine, including 291 tonnes that have already reached beneficiaries. The agency has established hubs across the vast country, including in Lviv, Kyiv, Dnipro, Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Many people left these regions because they are close to the contact line, and they are you know, under fight(ing) and shelling,” Dr Nizan said. “But many of the health workers stayed to deliver, to help, and those that left are replaced by other health care workers that came from the other areas that were occupied.”