UNHCR chief ‘appalled’ by destruction in Ukraine


Kiev, Jan 28 (IANS) After concluding a six-day visit to Ukraine, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) chief Filippo Grandi said he was “appalled by the level of destruction” he saw in the war-torn nation and called on donors to stay the course and support the people who are suffering acutely as a result of Russia’s ongoing invasion.

During his visit, Grandi travelled through the south and east of the country, seeing the destruction and devastation, meeting chiefs of seven regional administrations, several mayors and many war-affected civilians in Odesa, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Kiev, said an official statement released by the UN agency on Friday.

He also met President Volodymyr Zelensky, Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

“I was appalled by the level of destruction I saw as a result of Russian missiles and shelling,” Grandi said while concluding his trip on Friday.

“Civilian infrastructure like power plants, water systems, kindergartens and apartment buildings have been damaged or destroyed. Civilians, including children and the elderly, have been killed or fled their homes, having their entire lives uprooted by these senseless attacks,” he said.

Grandi also witnessed Ukrainian officials and citizens repairing and rebuilding damaged infrastructure.

“While buildings have been destroyed, the spirit of the Ukrainian people is unbroken. I’m so inspired by their strength and resilience. It’s up to all of us, the international community, to support them as they embark on recovery.

“I call on states, international financial institutions and others to contribute to this task and quickly,” the UNHCR chief added.

Grandi however, warned that humanitarian needs remain acute, especially in the frontline regions of the country.

Noting that the UN appeals for both inside Ukraine and refugee response will be launched in Geneva on February 15, he added: “Donors — governments, business, and private individuals — have been incredibly generous over the past year. This must be sustained if we are to provide people with the support they urgently need today and for the coming year. I hope all our donors will continue to enable the response to these humanitarian needs.”

He further said that the the UNHCR, with other international partners, will seek additional access to unaccompanied and separated Ukrainian children currently in Russia.

He also reiterated that, “in a situation of conflict, giving nationality and opening avenues for formal adoption of children violates international norms and practices”.


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