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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria

31 Mar 2022

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The aid will be distributed by the Ukrainian Red Cross Society in the days ahead. Credit: OCHA / Laurent Dufour

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights –  31 March 2022

Ukraine

Turning to Ukraine, there is good news from humanitarian partners of another UN-led inter-agency humanitarian convoy that safely reached Sumy, a city that, as we all know, has been heavily impacted by the war.

This is the second time the UN and our humanitarian partners have managed to deliver much-needed assistance to people living in Sumy and nearby communities—following the first UN-led convoy which arrived in Sumy on 18 March—and the third successful inter-agency humanitarian convoy in the past two weeks.

During today’s convoy, seven trucks delivered food, medicines and hygiene products that will be distributed by the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and their local partners in the days ahead. This included food for nearly 6,000 people provided by WFP and the NGO People in Need (PIN); hygiene products for around 6,000 people from PIN; blankets, sleeping bags and solar lamps for more than 1,500 people from UNHCR; and critical medical supplies for over 10,000 people over the next three months from WHO.

While today’s convoy is a significant development and the relief items will help us alleviate the suffering of thousands of people in Sumy, this is still far from what is needed right now in Ukraine.

The UN and partners have still not been able to reach areas where people are in desperate need of support, including Mariupol, Kherson and Chernihiv, despite extensive efforts and ongoing engagement with the parties to the conflict. We are continuing our dialogue with both parties to the conflict with the aim of urgently, immediately and consistently negotiating and facilitating the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance to the people who have been hardest-hit by the conflict.

In the meantime, needs continue to grow, and the support of the international community is critical for the scale-up of our operations. We have received nearly US$80 million more over the last couple of days, which will help us expand life-saving assistance. However, only 51 per cent of the $1.1 billion requested in the Humanitarian Flash Appeal has been made available so far, and we urge donors to convert their generous pledges into firm commitments as soon as possible. 

Afghanistan

Turning to Afghanistan, donors met today for the High-level Pledging Event on Supporting the Humanitarian Response in Afghanistan 2022, hosted by the United Nations and the Governments of the United Kingdom, Germany and Qatar. 

Forty-one donors pledged more than $2.44 billion for the humanitarian response in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

More than 23 million people – or 60 per cent of the population - need humanitarian assistance to survive years of conflict, economic collapse and the country’s worst drought in 30 years. The UN-coordinated relief operation – the largest but not the only one in Afghanistan – asks for $4.4 billion, three times the amount requested in 2021, and is only 13 per cent funded to date.

Needs are 30 per cent higher than last year and acute hunger is a daily reality for half the population, and fund-raising will continue for the remainder of the year. Basic health, education and other services are severely strained, livelihoods have been crushed and households are spending 80 per cent of their meagre income on food.

Today’s pledges of support are urgently needed to ramp up deliveries of nutritious food for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children, pregnant and breastfeeding women; nutritious meals for school-children; seeds and tools to farmers; training of unemployed workers in basic skills; protection for vulnerable groups; clean water supply in communities; as well as trauma treatment and reproductive healthcare. A press release about the event is available on OCHA’s website.

Syria

Yesterday, 30 March, a UN inter-agency cross-line convoy of 14 trucks carrying food for some 43,000 people, non-food and health assistance items from WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA crossed from Aleppo to Sarmada in north-west Syria.

There are 4.1 million people in the north-west of Syria that rely on aid to meet their most basic needs, 80 percent of them are women and children. Humanitarian conditions in the area are deteriorating due to the ongoing hostilities and a deepening economic crisis.

This is the third cross-line convoy reaching the North west of Syria, in line with the UN inter-agency operational plan and with UN Security Council Resolution 2585, which calls for both cross-line and cross-border humanitarian assistance. The UN urges increased access to all communities in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. Cross-line missions are complementary to the cross-border operation, which includes 800 trucks a month delivering food and other lifesaving aid to 2.4 million people.