Relief official says UN trying to boost aid in Ukraine

AP News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2015 11:16 AM

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The United Nations is trying to increase aid activities in Ukraine to help more than 5 million people affected by the conflict between the government and Russia-backed rebels, the organization's emergency relief coordinator said Tuesday.

Valerie Amos said the U.N. has been able to provide supplies and other aid in three of the five areas it has targeted for relief efforts in eastern Ukraine — Kharkiv, Donetsk and Mariupol. Offices in Luhansk and Dnipropetrovsk aren't yet fully staffed.

"There's a humanitarian crisis in the Ukraine," Amos told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a humanitarian aid conference in Budapest. "We have a limited amount that we can do because of the continuing insecurity. I very much hope that there will be a political solution as soon as possible to this crisis."

The U.N. said it recorded $72 million in humanitarian support for Ukraine in 2014, while this year its humanitarian appeal has requested $189 million.

Amos said statistics showed that people displaced within their own country or as refugees abroad spent an average of 17 years away from home, a situation which demanded an "integrated response."

Amos noted that support needed to be given not just to the refugees, but also the communities they fled to and the governments of the receiving countries.

"Very often there are tensions with local communities and a concern that people will stay," Amos said.

William Swing, head of the International Office for Migration, said that while relief organizations had performed well despite the large number of humanitarian emergencies, solutions appeared distant.

"There are no active negotiations or viable political processes that offer short- to medium-term hope of a solution" to conflicts in places like Syria, Iraq and South Sudan, Swing told the AP.