War in Ukraine must not become ‘new normal’: UN

“There has been a very clear intensification of the war in the last two months,” said Denise Brown, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine.

“During my last trip to Ukraine two weeks ago, I heard 12 sirens in one day and 12 explosions. Daily life is constantly disrupted in the city of Kharkiv,” she told reporters in Geneva.

The Russian military launched a new incursion into the Kharkiv region on 10 May, seizing the town of Vovchansk and intensifying airstrikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest urban area, where about a million people fear for their lives.

Millions traumatized

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly ten million people – including children – are at risk of acute post-traumatic stress disorder in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, some four million children have had their education disrupted, with 600,000 unable to attend school in person, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Driven underground

In the city of Kharkiv, children can only safely study in underground metro tunnels, said Brown, who recently visited the underground tunnels with the city’s mayor.

“My first reaction was that the classrooms looked like normal classrooms: full of children, full of teachers, full of the energy and enthusiasm of children. Then I thought, ‘This is not normal.’ It is not normal that children have to study underground.”

Ms. Brown recently attended the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin, where 14 countries and international organizations reiterated their support for Ukraine’s recovery, reconstruction and reform.

Asked about her participation in the upcoming peace conference on Ukraine hosted by Switzerland at the Bürgenstock this weekend, she clarified that “the UN is an observer, not a member state. So whoever attends will be in listening mode.”

Hope for a “just peace”

She echoed the UN Secretary-General’s position in declaring that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is “a violation of the UN Charter.”

“We hope for a just peace for Ukraine,” Ms. Brown said, “and as I said repeatedly in my remarks, the rest of the world should not normalize the war in Ukraine.”

After 28 months of war, the scale of the humanitarian needs is enormous. More than 32,000 civilian casualties, including 11,000 deaths, have been recorded, but the true number is likely much higher.

Thirty percent of pre-war jobs have been lost and poverty has increased from 5 to 25 percent. More than 14.6 million people, or 40 percent of the population, will need humanitarian assistance in 2024.

The humanitarian community has appealed for $3.1 billion to provide life-saving assistance to 8.5 million of the most vulnerable people in 2024.

This article is originally published on news.un.org

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