UN appeals billions for Ukraine, only millions for quake-hit Syria
Despite the huge number of affected people and infrastructure, the UN launches only a $397 million humanitarian appeal to aid Syria.
The United Nations on Wednesday said $5.6 billion was needed to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine and to the millions who have fled the country after the start of the war, a day after it announced a $397 million humanitarian appeal to aid quake-hit Syria.
The UN estimated that 21.8 million Ukrainians were now in need of humanitarian assistance.
"The war continues to cause death, destruction and displacement daily, and on a staggering scale," UN Humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement.
"We must do all we can to reach the hardest-to-reach communities, including those close to the front line," Griffiths stressed, adding that "the suffering of the Ukrainian people is far from over – they continue to need international support."
The UN said the requested $5.6 billion would allow it to reach the 15.3 million people in most dire need this year.
A full $1.7 billion of that amount was needed for assistance to the more than four million Ukrainian refugees hosted across eastern Europe, it highlighted.
Most of that would go to Poland, which is hosting more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees, and Moldova, the main transit country for Ukrainians making their way further into Europe.
According to the UN, women and children account for around 86% of the overall refugee population.
"Europe has proven capable of bold, collective action to help refugees," UN Refugee Chief Filippo Grandi said in the statement.
"We must not, however, take this response, or the hospitality of host communities, for granted," Grandi considered.
He added that "continued international support and solidarity is needed, until refugees are able to return to their homes in safety and dignity, which must also remain a priority."
Since the war began, humanitarian organizations in Ukraine have been working to reach people across the country, with nearly 16 million receiving aid and protection services in 2022.
Inside Ukraine, "the war has profoundly affected access to livelihoods and disrupted market stability particularly in southern and eastern oblasts, further aggravating humanitarian suffering," the appeal indicated.
It warned that "a majority of Ukrainians have reportedly reduced food consumption and spent savings," pointing to soaring unemployment, skyrocketing inflation, and inadequate social assistance.
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Only $397 million appeal to aid Syria
On the other hand, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the launch of a $397 million humanitarian appeal to aid Syria in the wake of the devastating earthquake, which has so far resulted in around 6,000 deaths.
"The Syria effort brings together the entire UN system and humanitarian partners and will help secure desperately needed, life-saving relief for nearly 5 million Syrians – including shelter, healthcare, food and protection," Guterres told reporters as the appeal was launched.
According to the UN, the Flash Appeal will ensure assistance to the people with the most urgent humanitarian needs, covering an initial period of three months, until May.
“We all know that lifesaving aid has not been getting in at the speed and scale needed. The scale of this disaster is one of the worst in recent memory,” the UN Secretary-General highlighted.
"I have an urgent message to the international community: The human suffering from this epic natural disaster should not be made even worse by manmade obstacles — access, funding, supplies," Guterres stressed, urging UN member states "and others to fully fund this effort without delay and help the millions of children, women and men whose lives have been upended by this generational disaster."
"This is a moment for unity, for common humanity and concerted action," he concluded.
According to the UN, 8.8 million people have been affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks in Syria. More than 4.2 million people have been affected by the earthquake in Aleppo, while 3 million people have been affected in Idlib, the UN noted, adding that more than 7,400 buildings have been entirely or partially destroyed.
The UN also estimated that up to 5.3 million people in Syria may have been made homeless as a result of the earthquake and its aftershocks.
While Syria clearly needs more than $394 million to rise from the aftermath of the earthquake, it remains dependent on aid sent from friendly countries.
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UN admits: 'We have failed the people in northwest Syria'
This comes as the UN pointed out on Sunday that the international community has so far abandoned Syrians as they struggle to secure basic needs and aid to respond to the devastating earthquake that struck the country.
Griffiths said although a convoy of supplies was delivered by the organization to northwest Syria through Turkey, the effort was not enough as millions more have been impacted by the catastrophe.
"We have so far failed the people in northwest Syria. They rightly feel abandoned. Looking for international help that hasn't arrived," he tweeted.
"My duty and our obligation is to correct this failure as fast as we can. That’s my focus now," Griffiths indicated.
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