UN calls for $4.2bn in 2024 humanitarian aid for war-ravaged Ukraine

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths says hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children are living with trauma in communities on the front lines. [File: Jean-Guy Python/AFP]

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has appealed for $4.2bn in humanitarian aid for Ukraine in 2024.

The UN agency called on Monday for donors to provide the funds to support Ukrainian communities and refugees, as the war sparked by Russia’s invasion nears its second anniversary.

“Hundreds of thousands of children live in communities on the front lines of the war, terrified, traumatised and deprived of their basic needs,” said UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.

“That fact alone should compel us to do everything we can to bring more humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.”

“Homes, schools and hospitals are repeatedly hit, as are water, gas and power systems,” he added. “The very fabric of society is under attack with devastating consequences.”

As part of the appeal for funding, OCHA is asking for $3.1bn to help 8.5 million people in dire need of humanitarian aid this year. The UN agency is also seeking $1.1bn to support 2.3 million Ukrainian refugees and their host communities.

OCHA received just 67 percent of the $3.9bn for which it appealed last year. It said it has reduced its appeal for Ukraine in 2024 in view of other humanitarian crises around the globe, including in Gaza and Sudan, that also require urgent funding.

“The competition for funding is getting greater, there is no question about it,” Griffiths said. “As we go into 2024, the competition for funding is going to be more difficult than 2023.”

Millions in need

OCHA said more than 14.6 million people, or 40 percent of Ukraine’s population, will need humanitarian assistance this year due to Russia’s invasion and attacks.

More than 3.3 million of these live in front-line communities in the east and the south of the country, including in territories occupied by Russia, which OCHA humanitarian convoys have been unable to access since the start of the conflict.

“We continue to remain in negotiation with the Russian government about how to get access to those people who are perhaps in the most urgent of need, since it has now been two years since any real, effective, regular, reliable humanitarian aid has reached them,” Griffiths said.

The UN said that Ukrainian refugees in neighbouring countries “also need increased and sustained support.”

It said that only half of school-age refugee children are enrolled in schools, only 40-60 percent of adults are employed, and “many remain vulnerable with no means to support themselves”.

Russia’s invasion, launched in February 2022, has forced some 6.3 million people to flee abroad. Four million people, including nearly one million children, remain displaced within the country, according to OCHA.

“Host countries continue to extend protection and include them in society, but many vulnerable refugees still need help,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“They shouldn’t feel pressed to return because they cannot make ends meet in exile.” – Al Jazeera

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