A UN top official has described the humanitarian situation in Ukraine as “hugely worse” than it was before the collapse of the Kakhovka dam.
The UN Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths said an “extraordinary 700,000 people are in need of drinking water, and warmed that the ravages of flooding in one of the world’s most important breadbaskets will almost inevitably lead to lower grain exports, higher food prices around the world, and less to eat for millions in need.”
“This is a viral problem,” he said. “But the truth is that this is only the beginning of seeing the consequences of this act.”
Ukraine controls the western bank of the Dnieper, and Russian troops occupy the shallow eastern bank, which is more prone to floods. The dam and reservoir provides fresh water and irrigation to the Kherson area, which Moscow has unlawfully seized and controlled for the past year.
Griffiths also claimed that, the UN reached 30,000 people in flood-affected regions, with help from the Ukrainian administration, primarily via Ukrainian Assistance groups. Also, Russia has so far refused UN permission to enter areas under its thumb in order to assist flood victims, Mr. Griffiths revealed.
Griffiths explained that, he spoke with Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, to request “access for our teams in Ukraine to go across the front lines to give aid to Ukrainians in those areas.” “We’re providing them with details as we speak, to enable Moscow to meet what we hope will be a positive decision on this,” Martin said. “I hope that will come through.”
However, immediate reaction is critical to saving lives, he added, “but behind that you’ve got a huge, looming problem of a lack of proper drinking water for those 700,000 people” on both the Ukrainian and Russian sides of the river.
He also mentioned the flooding of crucial farmland, and the imminent issue of supplying cooling water for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, which was been supplied by the dam.
Furthermore, Griffiths warned that, the floods have surged over locations with landmines from the war, “and what we are bound to see, are those mines floating in places where people don’t expect them,” putting lives at risk. “So it’s a cascade of problems, starting with allowing people survive today, and then giving them some kind of prospect tomorrow.”
Due to the extensive effects, “it’s almost inevitable” that, UN would make a special appeal for further humanitarian funds for Ukraine to deal with “a whole new order of magnitude” as a result of the dam’s failure. However, he stated that he would wait a few weeks to examine the economic, health, and environmental implications, before making the announcement.
Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal
Moreover, Griffiths claimed, he and United Nations Trade Representative Rebeca Grynspan are also trying to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which Turkey and the United Nations negotiated with Ukraine and Russia July 2022, to allow access to the three Black Sea ports for grain exports.
As a result of the deal, over 30,000 metric tons of wheat and other foodstuffs have been exported, resulting in a drop in cost of food worldwide, that rose during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year. The deal, however, has been prolonged three times and would expire on July 17th of this year.
Part of the deal included an agreement reached by Russia and the United Nations to overcome impediments of Russian food and fertilizer transports, which Moscow always complained, it hasn’t been met.
A key Kremlin demand, has been the restoration of a pipeline between the Russian port of Togliatti on the Volga River, and the Black Sea port of Odesa, which has been closed since Russia-Ukraine invasion began. The port helped in the delivery of Ammonia, a critical component in fertilizer production.
“Opening that pipeline and delivering ammonia across the Black Sea to the global south is a priority for all of us.” Ammonia is an essential ingredient for global food security,” the UN chief said. The pipeline was alleged to have ruptured due to shelling, but Griffiths said the United Nations failed to verify it, since the pipeline has been in the center of a combat zone.
“We, of course, are very, very strongly of the view that we need that repaired as quickly as possible. So let’s hope it’s not too badly damaged.” He said the Ukrainians have told U.N that, they might get to the pipeline, which is on their territory, “as soon as they can.”
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