After Russia began invading Ukraine around the end of February this year, the Ukrainians fled to neighbouring countries. Following that, charity organisations, aid agencies and individuals across Europe and America started collecting amenities for the Ukrainian refugees.
The humanitarian partners did not just issue coordinated emergency appeals but also collected $1.7 billion themselves. This support was delivered to refugees in Poland and other neighbouring countries. It was also reported that the UN agencies such as the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme have been working round the clock to meet the humanitarian needs of the displaced Ukrainians. Such promptness must be respected.
UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths’ statement made me more than happy. Griffiths said, “This is the darkest hour for the people of Ukraine. We need to ramp up our response now to protect the lives and dignity of ordinary Ukrainians. We must respond with compassion and solidarity.”
Echoing the appeal of the UN humanitarian organisations, not only the rich European nations offered their help to the refugees but also individual citizens of those nations who began providing their personal spare rooms, houses and property.
Likewise, over 20 religious charity organisations such as Voice of Children, Hope International, and Convoy of Hope are extending their help to the Ukrainian refugees around the world. The Americans have shown their kindness to the Ukrainians by booking the Airbnb facilities in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, to financially help the refugees without arriving there. So, the Airbnb has, so far, generated over US$ 37 million from 430, 000 bookings for the Ukranian refugees.
Such a coordinated initiative to save people in crisis must be respected because it indicates that humanity is still going strong. So, UN Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, praised the effort by saying, “Outpouring of support.”
But, such organisations and individuals are not concentrating on humanitarian crises and famines happening in other parts the world. The people of Ethiopia, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan are still facing one of the world’s worst famines. About 16 million people of Yemen are under starvation.
Similarly, out of nine million Ethiopians under hunger, three million children are at a risk of malnutrition. The situation in Somalia is equally alarming. The UN agencies are warning that eleven million people of Somalia are in desperate need of food due to conflicts, high food prices and drought.
Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher laments, “The brutal truth is that at the moment East Africa is not on the global agenda.”
Similar is the condition of the people of Afghanistan. The United Nations has warned that 23 million Afghans are facing extreme level of hunger, and 1.1 million children under five are at the risk of dying. Mary-Ellen McGroarty, Afghanistan director for the UN World Food Programme, said, “Emaciated children are coming into the hospitals.”
The starvation in Afghanistan can be eased if its funds are released. So, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the UN Security Council to suspend ‘rules and operations’ that can prevent aid agencies from delivering assistance to Afghanistan.
As kind people, donors should ensure an equitable distribution of aid to address the pleas of those in need.