16 million people in Ukraine need humanitarian aid

16 million people in Ukraine need humanitarian aid

A man with a white flag walks along the road during an exchange of prisoners, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a location given as Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, in this handout photo released on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)
A man with a white flag walks along the road during an exchange of prisoners, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a location given as Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, in this handout photo released on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)

Around 16 million people inside war-torn Ukraine are in need of humanitarian aid, the United Nations said Thursday, warning that delivering assistance to some areas was "extremely difficult".

Ukraine has been torn apart since Moscow's invasion on Feb 24, forcing millions of people to flee and leaving entire towns destroyed.

The UN said Thursday that humanitarian needs were soaring and that conditions for delivering aid were worsening as the conflict drags on.

"Almost 16 million people in Ukraine today need humanitarian assistance: water food, health services," Osnat Lubrani, the head of the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Ukraine, told reporters.

Six million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes for other parts of the country since the war started, though around five million have since returned, she said.

But "many know that they might be forced to flee again," she added.

Over 5.3 million more Ukrainians have fled abroad, Lubrani said.

She added that the UN tally of casualties since Russia invaded Ukraine was likely much higher.

"The number we have of almost 5,000 civilians killed and more than 5,000 injured is just a fraction of the frightening reality," she said.

She also said it was "extremely difficult if not... impossible" for humanitarian groups to access areas that are no longer under Kyiv's control.

Lubrani called on Russia and Ukraine "to do more to protect the people of this country and to make our work possible".

Matilda Bogner, head of the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, said at the briefing that the organisation had "full access" to Russian prisoners of war are held in Ukraine-controlled territory.

However, "we haven't had any access to POWs who are interned outside of areas controlled by the government," referring to part of Ukraine captured by Moscow or under control of pro-Moscow separatists.

She said that there was also no access to Ukrainian prisoners held Russia, adding that there has been "difficulty" in dialogue with Russia on the matter.

Ukraine said Wednesday that 144 of its soldiers were freed in the largest prisoner swap with Russia since the start of the war.

Russia said Thursday it is holding more than 6,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war.


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