GENEVA – UN humanitarian and refugee aid agencies said on Wednesday they were seeking $5.6 billion to help millions of people in Ukraine and countries that have fled Ukrainians to the following the invasion of their country by Russia almost a year ago.
The bulk of the joint appeal – $3.9 billion – is for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which aims to help more than 11 million people by channeling funds through more than 650 partner organizations.
UNHCR’s refugee agency, meanwhile, is seeking $1.7 billion to help some 4.2 million refugees who have fled to 10 host countries in eastern and central Europe.
The joint appeal, one of the largest of its kind for a single country, could attract a major outpouring of funds from Western countries, as a similar appeal has done since the start of the war. Such UN appeals are rarely fully funded.
“We were relatively well funded last year,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “I think the refugee appeal has been over 70% funded – not in total, but well enough. We’re counting on that to last.”
The appeal comes as a series of crises around the world have strained the generosity of wealthy donors.
“Of course, this is not the only crisis in the world,” Grandi added. “There are many more who deserve – I just came back from Ethiopia, Burundi. Who talks about Burundi? Sorry, but that’s the reality and people need support as much as anywhere else.”
The UNHCR appeal does not cover Russia. His figures, which are largely drawn from figures provided by national governments, show that more than 2.8 million Ukrainian refugees have been taken in by Russia.
Grandi said Russia receives funds for these refugees “from other sources” – including unrestricted funds.
“We are ready to do more if necessary for any Ukrainian who needs it in Russia,” he said. “This offer is on the table and is available.”
The UN says aid groups helped nearly 16 million people in Ukraine last year, including in areas not controlled by the Kyiv government. More than a third of them have received cash assistance, which can help support the struggling national economy.