The International Rescue Committee (IRC) Thursday renewed calls for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine as 18 million civilians require assistance as Russia’s war continues into its second year. The call comes only a few weeks after a UN human rights commission discovered evidence of “indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks” against civilians in violation of international humanitarian law.
Since September 2022, IRC has engaged in emergency response in Ukraine. Concerns and humanitarian need are mounting during the winter months in Ukraine. IRC Vice President for Emergencies Bob Kitchen said:
As we are visiting remote areas in the region which have returned under the control of the Government of Ukraine, we witness harrowing images of destruction and talk to people who have lived for over a year without access to heating or electricity, sheltering in their basements when the crossfire came close to home.
The IRC has assisted Ukrainian families in obtaining groceries, clothing items, and other essentials. The IRC is also working in Poland to help Ukrainian families displaced by the war.
Looking ahead to the spring, Ukraine expects Russia to launch a renewed military offensive. Already, the war has resulted in over 22,000 civilian casualties and cost well over $418 billion. Donors are set to gather in Italy on April 26 to commit further funds to Ukraine. As IRC Senior Vice President for Europe Harlem Désir said, “So far, robust international support has prevented the worst-case scenario from occurring in the country,” but “the war in Ukraine is far from over.”
The UN and international bodies continue to collect evidence of war crimes and human rights violations as the war rages on. The most recent human rights report out of the UN detailed indiscriminate use of explosives in civilian areas, willful killings, unlawful confinement, torture, rape, sexual and gender-based violence as well as unlawful transfers of detainees and children in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine.
International bodies are attempting to hold Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, accountable for their crimes. On March 17, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it is seeking the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with the forced deportation of Ukrainian children. More recently, on March 30, the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) launched an investigation into the forcible transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia, as detailed by recent UN reports.