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UN relief chief outlines immediate humanitarian priorities for Ukraine

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By IANS Updated: Mar 08, 2022 2:39 pm
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In the first several days since the start of the military offensive in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of people have sought safety in Poland.(photo:Twitter/@Refugees)

United Nations, March 8 (IANS): Humanitarians’ top priorities are allowing civilians to leave areas under fire in Ukraine and getting desperately needed aid to these areas, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths told the Security Council.

Together with Unicef head Catherine Russell, Griffiths briefed the Council on how the UN and partners are responding to rising needs since the Russian military operation began, reports Xinhua news agency.

Griffiths, also the UN humanitarian coordinator, outlined three immediate humanitarian priorities.

First, parties must take constant care to ensure military operations spare civilians, homes and other infrastructure.

Second, people wanting to leave areas of active hostility must be allowed to do so safely and voluntarily.

Third, a constant communication system with the parties to support aid delivery is urgently needed.

A team from his office has been sent to Moscow to work on better humanitarian civil-military coordination, following a phone call on March 4 between UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

A first technical meeting with ministry representatives has also been held.

Over the past few days, the World Food Programme has set up supply chain operations to deliver immediate food and cash assistance to up to 5 million people inside Ukraine.

The World Health Organisation has sent trauma care, emergency surgery equipment and other supplies. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is assisting people who have crossed into neighbouring countries.

Other UN initiatives included the appointment of a crisis coordinator for Ukraine and the launch last week of two “robust” humanitarian plans to support people in the country and those who have fled.

The Unicef currently has 135 staff in Ukraine, with more being deployed. Teams supported by the agency provide psychosocial care, mental health support and protection services to children in need.

Child and family hubs at border crossings known as “Blue Dot” hubs were established to provide psychosocial support, basic legal counselling and play areas.

Furthermore, the agency and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees have urged greater protection for unaccompanied and separated children leaving Ukraine, as well as for Ukrainians living in care institutions or boarding schools.

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By IANS Updated: Mar 08, 2022 2:39:56 pm