Two U.N. agencies are launching multi-billion-dollar appeals to assist the soaring number of refugees from Ukraine and people displaced inside the country.
The worsening situation in Ukraine has prompted the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, to double its initial $1.1 billion appeal. That appeal was launched soon after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Since then, OCHA estimates the number of people needing humanitarian aid inside Ukraine has increased from 12 million to 15.7 million.
OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke said his agency’s revised appeal for $2.25 billion will assist 8.7 million of those worst-affected people over the next six months.
“The appeal covers a range of support from cash assistance, food security and livelihoods, health, shelter, protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene, to mention some of the larger interventions…Continued international support will be essential to enable humanitarians in Ukraine to continue to reach those whose lives have been upended by the war,” he said.
The U.N. refugee agency also has revised its initial appeal upwards. It now is seeking $1.85 billion to support a projected 8.3 million Ukrainian refugees and communities hosting them in eight neighboring countries of asylum.
The number of expected refugees is more than twice the estimated figure of four million the UNHCR had predicted would need help when the war broke out.
UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo calls the current situation highly dynamic and fluid. In just two months, she notes, 5.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine in search of international protection.
“It is anyone’s guess to say exactly when we will reach this 8.3 million figure. But if we are looking at the trends so far, this displacement has been on such an expansive scale. And the rapidity of this we have not seen in recent times. So, these displacements are still occurring every day. Every hour we are seeing people continue to flee Ukraine,” she said.
The appeals are being launched against the backdrop of continued fighting, destruction and displacement inside the country and flight to safer areas abroad.
The UNHCR calls the human impact and suffering already caused by the war staggering.
It warns the trauma of war will have a lasting impact on many forced to flee their homes, 90 percent of whom are women and children. It adds humanitarian needs will continue to grow, displacement, and the human tragedy will not cease until the war is brought to an end.