Conflict in Ukraine: a safe passage for refugees is needed

A woman calls for peace in Ukraine during a demonstration A woman calls for peace in Ukraine during a demonstration Derek French on Pexels

6 March 2022

The UN chief asks for a pause to allow refugees to escape the conflict zone in Ukraine: 1,123 civilian casualties have been reported since the beginning of the war

A war between governments of different countries should not affect civilians; however, these are the most targeted groups throughout a conflict. The violent episodes in Ukraine are the most recent proof of this. In the last days, millions of Ukrainians tried to flee and seek refuge in the bordering countries; unfortunately, not all of them succeeded due to various obstacles. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), reported that more than 1.5 million people have crossed into neighboring countries in just ten days. 

According to the United Nations human rights body (OHCHR), there have been 1,123 civilian casualties since the beginning of the attacks. However, information and many reports in the last few days have been delayed due to intense hostility which indicates the probability of higher casualties than reported.

On 5 March, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, asked for a pause in the fighting to allow for the safe passage of civilians and also to provide humanitarian aid and supplies for those who remain in Ukraine. According to Mr. Guterres, the civilians are at risk particularly in the cities of Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Sumy. Similarly, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports incessant episodes of violence. The head of the UNHCR said that the conflict in Ukraine has created the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

Bombs and weapons are not the only reasons for death among civilians. Spread of illness and infections is an obvious and sad consequence of violence. Destruction of water and sanitation infrastructure, inadequate vaccination coverage, population movements, crowding, and lack of access to hospitals and pharmacies are the leading cause for the spread of infections and diseases such as COVID-19, measles, polio, TB, and HIV.  The first situation report on Ukraine released by the UN health agency (WHO) has set mental health care (“significant stress due to acute conflict” as the agency says) and conflict-related trauma and injuries as health priorities for the country. 


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Author:Giulia Francescon;Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

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