Millions of Ukrainians are suffering from acute shortages of food, water, shelter and other basic needs more than four months after Russia’s invasion, U.N. agencies say.
U.N. agencies are trying to provide assistance to Ukrainians in light of Russia’s invasion, but they say destruction from Russian airstrikes and artillery fire, plus security concerns, make delivery to some areas difficult. They say it is not possible to enter and provide relief supplies to Kherson and Mariupol, cities that have been pummeled into rubble by Russian airstrikes.
Speaking from Kyiv, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, says an estimated 10,000 civilians have been killed and injured, adding this is probably a fraction of the true number. She says nearly 16 million people in Ukraine need humanitarian assistance and protection.
“We are making every effort to support the people whose lives have been torn apart because of this war," Lubrani said. "But the Russian Federation—also the Ukrainian government—have to do more to protect the people of this country and to make our work possible.”
Lubrani says the U.N. and private aid agencies have provided assistance to nearly 9 million people in every region in Ukraine. She adds nearly 2 million have received cash assistance for basic needs.
The Ukrainian crisis also is having a global impact. Russian ships are blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, preventing the country from exporting its wheat and grain to the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Asia. The United Nations warns this is causing a global hunger crisis.
World Food Program Deputy Emergency Coordinator Kate Newton says without the Black Sea ports it is not possible to get anywhere close to the export levels Ukraine needs.
“However, we are doing everything we can, which means by road, by rail and now by river, to try to get close to the maximum output," Newton said. "And at the moment, we think it is about 1 million metric tons a month and maybe we can push up to 2 million, but we urgently need access to the Black Sea.”
Ukraine is considered one of the world’s breadbaskets. It provides about 10% of global wheat exports and nearly half the world’s sunflower oil.
The World Food Program says Ukraine exported up to 6 million tons of grain a month before the war. It says about 400 million people worldwide consumed Ukrainian products last year. Now that exports have largely stopped, WFP says about 20 million tons of grain are stuck in storage in Ukraine.