22nd March, 2022
By Cecilia Ologunagba
No fewer than 6.5 million people are now internally displaced in Ukraine after attacks on health facilities by Russia.
This was stated by the United Nations (UN) on Monday, as it records over 10 million forced to flee their homes.
“Along with our partners, we remain deeply concerned over the impact of reported fighting on civilians trapped in cities in eastern, northeastern and southern Ukraine.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact on civilians trapped, including in Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Izyum, Donetsk, Mykolaiv, and Mariupol,” UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said while briefing correspondents at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.
According to him, the World Health Organisation says it has verified six additional reports of attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine on Sunday.
“As of March 20, WHO has verified 52 attacks on health care facilities in 25 days.
“WHO notes that this is more than two attacks per day, stressing that this, of course, is unacceptable and that health care facilities must always be protected,” he said.
Since February 24 when the invasion began, more than 10 million people have now been forced from their homes in search of safety and security – nearly a quarter of the population of Ukraine.
This includes an estimated 6.5 million men, women and children who are internally displaced, said UN migration agency, IOM, on Monday.
Nearly 3.5 million people have crossed international borders out of Ukraine as refugees, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
IOM’s data show that 13.5 per cent of those newly displaced had already had prior experience with displacement during 2014 and 2015 when Russia’s military annexed the Crimea from Ukraine and backed separatist militants in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Dontetsk.
“Many of those displaced are particularly vulnerable, pregnant and breastfeeding women, elderly persons, those with disabilities, chronic illnesses and people directly affected by violence,” IOM stated.
More than 60 per cent of heads of households surveyed are accompanied by children, and more than 53 per cent of internally displaced people are women.
The agency said the most pressing needs include medicines, health services and financial resources. Some 186,000 of the displaced are third-country nationals.
“The scale of human suffering and forced displacement due to the war far exceeds any worst-case scenario planning.
“Responding to the needs of those internally displaced and stranded within Ukraine is our top priority.
“Our teams have been reaching thousands of people with essential aid, but we need hostilities to cease, to be able to reach people in severely affected areas,” IOM Director General, António Vitorino, said.
Also, World Food Programme, WFP, reported that it had reached more than 330,000 crisis-affected people inside Ukraine with food assistance since the Russian offensive began.
Food delivery to cooperating partners is also being scaled up, reaching more than 900 metric tons over the last few days.
In besieged Kharkiv, which has suffered huge damage from Russian heavy weaponry, WFP has doubled its bread distribution through partners, reaching nearly 78 metric tons for about 260,000 people.