After 100 days of war, UN issues fresh alert on food insecurity in Ukraine



By Cecilia Ologunagba

UN humanitarians on Friday issued a fresh alert amid rising and alarming levels of food insecurity after 100 days of war in Ukraine.

Humanitarians have continued to push to secure food and fertiliser exports from Ukraine and Russia to the wider world, amid rising and alarming levels of food insecurity.

Mr Amin Awad, UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, confirmed that an organisation was making every effort to secure the release of grain stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

According to him, equally important for the world’s farmers is a secure supply of fertiliser from Russia, a major world producer.

Awad told journalists in Geneva from Kyiv that negotiations were going on, noting that there are a lot of details and shuttling between Moscow and other countries that have concerns, and the negotiations continue.

“But there’s no clear-cut emerging solution right now because it’s a board of puzzles that they have to move it together,” he said.

The official said at least 15.7 million people in Ukraine are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

“Numbers are rising by the day as the war continues, and with winter around the corner, the lives of hundreds of thousands are in peril,’’ he said.

Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine said, “Today we mark 100 days from the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine.’’

Speaking from Lviv in the west of the country, he added that it was “100 days too many, and it has put the health system under huge stress.

“We have verified 269 attacks on health,” he said, and 76 deaths together with at least 59 injured during those assaults.

Also speaking from Lviv, Mr Matthew Hollingworth, Emergency Coordinator for WFP in Ukraine, said the biggest challenge is to get aid into difficult terrain.

“Clearly our biggest challenges are getting aid into the hardest-to-reach areas of this country, the war-torn areas, the occupied areas, the areas around the front line.

He explained that 36 per cent of everything done in last three months had been to support those areas of the country.

“But it’s not enough, it’s nowhere near enough. And clearly, we need those continuous appeals to be heard for unimpeded humanitarian access into those areas of the country.

“We have returned to a breadbasket of the world where now sadly people are having to become significant recipients of humanitarian assistance where hungry people are standing in breadlines when this is the breadbasket of the world.”

Health needs are also critical for the country’s women, 265,000 of whom were pregnant before the Russian invasion.

“We have received reports and heard testimonies from doctors about deliveries, including C-sections, taking place in the basements of maternity hospitals, in shelters, and even in metro stations,” Jaime Nadal, the UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) representative in Ukraine, said.

Speaking from a railway station in Lviv, he added that other surgeries had taken place “in hard-to-reach areas with gynaecologists giving remote, online instructions during childbirth to save the lives of both the mother and newborn”.

Displacement and multiple displacement continues to impact Ukrainians, particularly the most vulnerable, warned the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

“In Dnipro I saw buses with people who had evacuated from locations at Bakhmut arriving very visibly shaken,” Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR Representative in Ukraine said.

Speaking from Vinnitsya in central Ukraine, she explained that most of the arrivals she saw were elderly people “who had difficulties walking alone and came really with next to nothing in their hands.

“And for some, this was the second or even the third time that they have fled since 2014.”

Also, UN migration agency IOM, has continued to track the movement of people displaced by the war – including returnees – since it began on 24 February.

“Most of these returns have taken place to the north region of Ukraine including almost one million persons to Kyiv itself,” Stephen Rogers, IOM Ukraine deputy chief of mission said.

“However, when those persons returned to northern and central regions…33 per cent in the central region (and) 21 per cent in the north, those people who returned found destruction of their property and will need to rebuild.”

In common with conflicts everywhere, vast swathes of Ukraine are now contaminated with unexploded ordnance or mines, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) warned.

“Demining issues are of utmost priority for UNDP, we’re working with different government authorities to address this issue,” Manal Fouani, acting UNDP Ukraine Resident Representative, said.

“The estimation by the government is that more than 300,000 square kilometres – that’s almost half the territory of Ukraine – are contaminated.” (NAN)