DISPLACEMENT FROM WAR IN UKRAINE
As Ukrainian forces continue their fight against regular Russian military personnel and pro-Russian proxies, displacement from the war in eastern Ukraine is reaching unfathomable levels of desperation. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has estimated 5.2 million people are living in conflict-affected areas while more than 960,000 people have been displaced, representing the largest displacement of people in Europe since the violent breakup of Yugoslavia. As winter sets in and the conflict shows little sign of cessation, the number of displaced people will assuredly increase even as the will and the means to help shrinks.
Of those internally displaced (460,000+ people), 95 percent come from Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, the epicenter of the Russian-fueled war against Ukraine. Meanwhile, over 500,000 have fled to neighboring countries as of mid-November. Thousands more have also fled from Crimea, where human rights abuses are widespread and increasingly prevalent. Given significant problems with the creation of a centralized registration system, however, the true figures of those displaced are in reality considerably higher (two to three times larger by UN agency estimates).
Despite the establishment of some humanitarian corridors to ensure the safe passage of civilians, these routes have been subject to constant shelling and are too dangerous to use. Humanitarian needs are significant and on the rise, and there is a serious lack of capacity on the ground to implement humanitarian programs. Aid is either being blocked or simply stolen. Access to basic needs, health care, and financial and social services is increasingly challenging or entirely non-existent. Moreover, the international response has been underwhelming to date. The international community, including Canada, must redouble its efforts through increased funding and capacity-building initiatives to support Ukraine’s national authorities and the needs of those displaced.
A Call for Action:
Appeal to your respective Member of Parliament (MP) in order to keep up the federal government’s pressure on the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces from Ukrainian sovereign territory and cease its support of pro-Russian proxy forces. Comprehensive, hard-hitting international sanctions must be enacted until the war ends and Ukraine is able to re-establish its full sovereign right over the Crimean peninsula.
- Appeal for increased Canadian humanitarian assistance for Ukraine and the provision of Canadian personnel in order to assist Ukrainian authorities and/or international humanitarian organizations.
- Raise awareness of the war in Ukraine and largest displacement of people in Europe with your family, friends, co-workers and those outside the Ukrainian community.
- On the local level, if you are unable to contribute to fundraising initiatives in support of those in need in Ukraine you may still demonstrate your support through donations to such organizations as Winnipeg Harvest, Siloam Mission and the Salvation Army.