Testimony by Kate Phillips-Barrasso, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, to UN OCHA Member States

UN OCHA Member States Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in Ukraine

Honourable participants,

I deliver these comments on behalf of a group of NGOs responding in Ukraine, some of their representatives are joining me in this room. As we speak, civilian lives in Ukraine continue to be lost. The world has yet again failed to protect them, and we fear for the worse.

We reiterate our call for full and unhindered access for all humanitarian staff and assistance. Despite the growing needs, access in areas outside Ukrainian control continues to be denied. Civilians should be able to evacuate to areas of their choice, and humanitarian aid should reach civilians in these territories. The recent targeting of critical civilian infrastructure resulted in more loss of lives and left millions in the dark and cold – isolated and disconnected. With lowering winter temperatures comes the urgent need to speed up and intensify humanitarian access negotiations as a standalone matter and at the highest level. It takes initiative.

At the heart of the response, local responders have bridged day with night and sometimes taken high risks to meet civilians in need across Ukraine. Ukrainian civil society organisations’ meaningful participation must be ensured in all decision-making spaces and dialogue on the Ukraine Recovery/Reconstruction process, including the international expert conference that will be hosted by the German Presidency of the G7 and the Ukraine Recovery Conference of 2023.

Honourable participants,

In the face of serious violations, Member States must reaffirm unwavering commitment to international law. We cannot and should not sit and watch civilians suffering. We must be able to reach people in need wherever they are. The international community must deploy every diplomatic tool to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law.

It is the world’s collective responsibility to help us help them.