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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Ukraine, Syria, Yemen

10 May 2022

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After years of war, some schools have reopened with the support of volunteer teachers in Idlib, Syria. Credit: OCHA/Anwar Abdullatief

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights –  10 May 2022

Ukraine

An update on Ukraine, where hundreds of thousands of people continue to be uprooted by the war. Nearly 14 million people have been forced to leave their homes over the last couple of months, according to estimates from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Ukraine continues to be the world’s fastest displacement crisis since World War II.

To give you the breakdown, over 8 million people had been internally displaced across the country by the end of April, an increase of 322,000 people in just two weeks, according to IOM. Another 5.9 million people were forced to cross borders to seek safety in other countries, according to UNHCR.

Some 2.7 million people who were previously internally displaced within Ukraine have returned to their places of usual residence, further highlighting the complexity of mobility within Ukraine. According to IOM, 13 per cent of the returnees—353,000 people—indicated an intention to leave their homes again due to the current situation.

Almost half of all people internally displaced in Ukraine come from the east of the country, and another 20 per cent from areas around the capital Kyiv. Another 17 per cent were originally living in the north of the country and 11 per cent in the south. The trends show the dynamics of the conflict, as people displaced come from the areas hardest affected by hostilities.

The UN and our colleagues from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights continue to receive reports and allegations of grave violations of human rights in Ukraine, including credible reports of rape—with horrifying reports of gang rape—, threats of sexual violence against civilian women and girls, men and boys and enforced disappearance and displacement, allegedly perpetrated mainly by Russian armed forces and allies. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine is documenting and investigating the cases, some of which may amount to war crimes.

And on funding, yesterday, OCHA launched an interactive Ukraine Private Sector Donations Tracker, to document this unprecedented show of generosity and improve transparency about humanitarian funding flows. The private sector has committed more than US$1 billion of cash and in-kind donations for the humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine. Our Member States have made$1 billion available, out of $2.25 billion requested by aid organizations in Ukraine to support people affected by the war.

And in response to a question from yesterday on Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths’ engagement in Turkey, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that he was received in Ankara on Monday (9 May) by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin. Their discussions focused on Turkish support to the UN’s efforts towards progress on pressing humanitarian concerns in Ukraine. 

Syria

The Sixth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region”, organized by the European Union, is taking place today.  The conference comes at a time when the number of people in need in Syria is the highest it has ever been, more than 11 years since the war started. That number currently stands at 14.6 million, an increase of 1.2 million from 2021.

Speaking at the conference, Under Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths highlighted the need for further support from the international community as the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.  He noted that humanitarian needs are deepening, driven by a deepening economic crisis, ongoing displacement, and climatic shocks, as well as the impact of a decade of conflict which damaged or destroyed much of the country’s public infrastructure and services.

Griffiths reiterated the UN continued effort to strengthen access through all modalities. He also highlighted the effort in scaling-up early recovery programming to address some of the drivers of growing and shifting humanitarian needs and to lessen the dependence of beneficiaries on external assistance.

As a reminder, this year, $10.5 billion are needed to support 11.8 million people in Syria, over 5.6 million Syrian refugees and 4.3 million members of host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. This compares to nearly US$10 billion requested last year to reach more than 20 million people inside Syria, and in host communities outside Syria. In 2021, the conference raised $4.4 billion for 2021 and $2 billion for 2022 and beyond.

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner said in a joint statement, today that more than 90 percent of Syrians live in poverty. Food insecurity has touched new records; and nearly one in two Syrian children are out of school and vulnerable to child labour, early and forced marriages, trafficking, and recruitment by armed actors.

The Ministerial Pledging Conference is ongoing, and we share information about the outcome as soon we have them.

The UN is however not co-hosting this year. The European Union made a decision not to invite the Russia Federation, and we refer to them for their reasoning. The Russia Federation is a Member State of the UN and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and a key interlocutor.

Yemen

The Government of the Netherlands and the United Nations will co-host a pledging event in The Hague tomorrow (11 May) to support the UN-coordinated operational plan to address the threat of an oil spill from the FSO Safer. As you know, this is an aging tanker off Yemen’s Red Sea coast holding 1 million barrels of oil.

The planned operation has the necessary support of the parties to the conflict and key stakeholders and comprises the installation of a replacement vessel or equivalent capacity and a four-month emergency operation to transfer the oil to a safe temporary vessel before it is too late.

The budget for the two-track plan is $144 million, including $80 million urgently required for the four-month emergency operation. We need donors to urgently commit the funds before the weather window to transfer the oil closes.

A major spill would result in a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe, with profound economic consequences across the region. The cost of cleanup alone is estimated at $20 billion. A major spill would also cause disruptions to shipping through the Bab al-Mandab strait to the Suez Canal, which would cost billions more every day.

The world needs to act now or the time bomb will continue ticking.