The need for aid increases with the war

The crisis in Ukraine is very obvious, says Wernerman, who himself visited the country last week. For safety reasons, the team only visited Lviv in the western part. The purpose was to meet various UN bodies and civil society organizations with activities funded by Sweden.

– When you walk around the city, it is in many respects still like an ordinary Eastern European city, which is a very bizarre feeling. But in the next second the plane alarm goes off, and people have to look for protection.

And although the situation in Lviv is stable compared to many other cities, there is also a great need for humanitarian aid there. Since the beginning of the war, the city has received a huge amount of internally displaced people. It is estimated that around eight million people are on the run within the country.

Jakob Wernerman, head of humanitarian aid at the aid agency Sida, visited Lviv in western Ukraine last week. Stock Photography.

Different needs

The most serious and urgent humanitarian need is in the eastern and southern parts of the country, and to some extent along the front line in the north, according to Wernerman.

On Thursday, Sweden together with Poland hosted a major donor conference in Warsaw and the Swedish government has announced that it will contribute SEK 230 million. According to Wernerman, it is important for Sida to go to Ukraine to follow up on humanitarian aid and gain an understanding of the situation on the ground.

– For example, if you are stuck in Mariupol and have lived without food for several weeks and perhaps drank water from elements, you of course need food, water and medicine to survive at all.

Those who have managed to escape have different types of needs – such as psychosocial support. Many of the refugees are severely traumatized, says Wernerman. For example, they may have experienced bombings or been separated from their families.

– Especially women and children on the run are vulnerable. Protection aspects are an important component of the humanitarian response.

Too slow in the beginning

At the beginning of the crisis, humanitarian organizations such as the UN and the Red Cross were criticized for not responding to needs quickly enough.

But now they have caught up and started to scale up aid to the most affected areas, says Wernerman. According to a report, just over four million people have now been reached by some form of humanitarian aid from the UN.

– What has been most difficult is to reach the areas where people have the greatest needs.

He says that it is also important to cooperate and include the local authorities in the humanitarian work so as not to undermine their capacity, opportunities and responsibilities.

– There are very many organizations that now want to come in and work in Ukraine. Coordination is required.

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