GENEVA - The United Nations warns some 4 million people across Ukraine are facing a desperate situation as winter approaches and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance to survive the bitterly cold months ahead.
Ukraine is into its fourth year of war, a war that the United Nations estimates has killed about 10,000 people and injured more than 23,500 others. No resolution is in sight to what has become a frozen conflict between the Kyiv government and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.
This is causing immense suffering to millions of people living in zones close to the contact line that separates the areas controlled by each side. The UN reports some four million people need food, health services, shelter, water and sanitation and protection as winter approaches.
Jens Laerke is spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. He says most of the people in urgent need of aid live in the rebel-controlled areas in the east, though pockets of need also exist in Government-controlled areas throughout the country.
“One of the results of this deteriorating crisis is that we now estimate that 1.2 million people in Ukraine on both sides of the contact line…are food insecure. So, that is certainly a concern,” said Laerke.
Laerke says some 600,000 people, most living in separatist east Ukraine, are unable to access their pensions, which are critical for their survival.
He warns aid agencies will not be able to provide the humanitarian aid needed to help Ukraine’s millions of vulnerable people this winter without more money. He notes only 26 percent of this year’s $200 million U.N. appeal for Ukraine has been received.