WFP Set to Assist People Affected by Conflict in Ukraine
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is launching an emergency operation to provide food assistance for people fleeing the conflict inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries, following an official request from the country’s government.
“We are deeply concerned for the impact of hostilities on the lives and livelihoods of civilians,” said Margot van der Velden, the U.N. World Food Programme’s director of emergencies. “As the situation evolves, there is a need to ensure that affected communities have continued access to any humanitarian support they may require and that the safety of humanitarian staff on the ground is guaranteed.”
What You Need to Know
- The U.N. World Food Programme is launching an emergency operation in Ukraine to provide food assistance for people fleeing the conflict.
- The food assistance operation is expected to cover Romania and Poland initially, and then possibly Moldova and Slovakia, guided by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity and independence.
- U.N. World Food Programme teams are on the ground in Kyiv and in a number of the neighboring countries leading the emergency telecommunications and logistics push on behalf of the United Nations.
- Between 2014 and 2018, the U.N. World Food Programme worked in eastern Ukraine, reaching more than 1 million people through cash, food vouchers or locally purchased food rations, operating in both government- and non-government-controlled areas.
While it is difficult to estimate the humanitarian consequences of this developing war, UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – estimates that over 1 million Ukrainians have already fled the country and sought refuge in neighboring countries since the beginning of the conflict. Miles-long traffic jams are being seen towards Ukraine’s neighbors to the west.
The majority of the people fleeing to the Polish border are women and children, as men are not allowed to leave the country. The waiting time to cross the nearly 9-mile backlog into Poland can be up to 40 hours, with temperatures as low as -2°C at night. Families are desperate, cold, afraid and hungry.
Food and drinking water shortages are reported in pockets of the capital Kyiv and in Kharkiv, the two cities currently bearing the brunt of the ongoing conflict.
U.N. World Food Programme staff in the capital say that food supplies are running low, with grocery store shelves almost empty. Food shortages will be another obstacle facing residents of Kyiv, many of whom have taken shelter in metro stations.
The Black Sea basin is one of the world’s most important areas for grain and agricultural production, and the food security impact of the conflict will likely be felt beyond Ukraine’s borders.
In a year of unprecedented humanitarian needs, this will also affect the U.N. World Food Programme’s efforts to supply food to some of its biggest emergencies.
“We get 50% of our grains out of the Ukraine-Russia area, it’s going have a dramatic impact on food costs, shipping costs, oil and fuel,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley in a social media video posted from Yemen. “This is catastrophe on top of catastrophe.”
The current crisis comes as the U.N. World Food Programme warns 811 million people go to bed hungry every night around the world, with the number of those facing acute food insecurity having jumped from 135 million to 276 million since 2019 – a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 44 million people in 38 countries are teetering on the edge of famine – in addition to working to ensure that the needs of people in, and feeling from, Ukraine are met, the U.N. World Food Programme is working around the clock to make sure critical supplies to its operations around the world suffer minimal interruption.
This story originally appeared on WFP’s Stories on February 28, 2022 and was written by WFP Staff. Figures updated March 3, 2022.
The eruption of war in Ukraine is driving hundreds of thousands of families from their homes and into hunger. WFP has launched an emergency response operation to support the Ukrainian people in their time of need. Donate today to send urgently needed food.