Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing a humanitarian crisis with over one million refugees leaving the country and countless impacted internally, including in war-torn cities. Here is how the west is helping and what else should be done.
Speaking about the situation that is unfolding in Ukrainian cities which have been viscously attacked with Russian shells and rockets, Samantha Power, the USAID Administrator, said that “we need the entire world to stand for access” to these vulnerable populations to provide food, medicines and other critical, life-saving supplies.
GMF’s President Heather Conley pointed to $54 million in new U.S. humanitarian assistance announced by the Biden Administration last Sunday.
Power believes that the UN vote taken this week condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine – with 141 countries supporting the resolution – will help build momentum for forcing Russia to create “green corridors” for providing international assistance. Ambassador Power made those comments during an online discussion organized by the German Marshall Fund and the Reanimation Package of Reforms Coalition about the crisis which is engulfing innocent civilians and steps to help Ukrainians.
Ambassador Power also talked about how USAID and US government is ramping up efforts to get assistance into Ukraine as well as helping Ukraine’s neighbors to the west with the influx of refugees, a number that is growing rapidly.
Power announced that the Biden Administration will be seeking $10 billion dollars from Congress in additional funding to support Ukraine.
Hanna Hopko, a leading civil society activist and former member of the Ukrainian parliament, made an emotional plea for urgent action from the West to save lives by creating green corridors for the evacuation of citizens and for the delivery of food, as the situation is reaching crisis proportions in Ukrainian cities and towns that are under Russian siege. She called for the creation of an international tribunal to bring President Putin to justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity as he has launched a war designed to destroy Ukraine’s identity, culture, and democracy, she said. Ms. Hopko also pleaded for maximal military assistance to Ukraine, saying it is necessary to mobilize all possible resources, as well as much tougher sanctions against Russia.
Olena Prokopenko, a Ukrainian civil society activist and Co-Chair of the Transatlantic Task Force on Ukraine, speaking from Ukraine’s border with Poland, reiterated many of the priorities expressed by Hopko, underscoring the urgent need for implementing greater, all-encompassing, crippling sanctions against Russia, along with total isolation of Russia, coupled, most importantly, with more robust military support for Ukraine as current measures in place are too weak and too slow to stop Putin and his “terrorist state.”
She talked about the need for assistance to deal with the psychological trauma of war that millions of Ukrainians are facing. Prokopenko also said that funds should be created to support families who lost a parent in the war and to provide employment to Ukrainian refugees in Europe, including for those in the civil society sector. The West should also take action to protect and give refuge to activists in Ukraine that may be targeted by Russia.
Building on USAID Administrator Power’s remarks, Jim Hope, who heads the USAID mission to Ukraine, presented a list of assistance that USAID is providing, including countering cyberattacks, communications technology, medicines, and much more. He pledged that USAID will continue to stand with Ukraine.
Heather Conley, as well as the other speakers, decried Russia’s, unjustified, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine – a war against a peaceful, democratic nation.