GENEVA – As Russia's war on Ukraine enters its second month, the United Nations (UN) World Food Program said Friday it estimates that 45% of the people in Ukraine are worried about finding enough food to eat.
“Food is one of the top three concerns, along with safety and fuel for transportation,” WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri said at a UN news conference.
“The country’s food supply chain is broken. The existing systems that feed the tens of millions trapped inside Ukraine are falling apart: trucks and trains destroyed, airports bombed, bridges fallen, supermarkets emptied, and warehouses drained.”
He said the WFP is deeply concerned that families in embattled areas, especially Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, have even greater problems finding food.
“Lack of access to conflict-hit areas and a lack of humanitarian partners on the ground are the biggest obstacles to providing life-saving assistance to families inside Ukraine,” Phiri noted.
“The encircled city of Mariupol is running out of its last reserves of food and water.”
The WFP spokesman said that no humanitarian aid had been allowed into the city since it was encircled on Feb. 24.
“The only way to reach Mariupol is through humanitarian convoys, which until now have not made it through,” he added.
Other cities such as Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odessa, Dnipro, and Sumy are partially encircled but can be reached through commercial transport, said the WFP.
The first inter-agency convoy reached Sumy with 130 metric tons of ready-to-eat meals and canned food, medical supplies, and bottled water for 35,000 people on March 18.
“In Kharkiv, we have provided almost 133 metric tons of freshly baked bread or almost 250,000 bread loaves,” said the WFP spokesman.
Phiri also said the WFP mobilized food supplies to assist 3 million people inside Ukraine for one month and is putting the systems for delivery in place.
WFP has provided food assistance to 716,000 people and is planning to scale up gradually to 1.2 million people in two weeks and 2.4 million people in one month.
The UN food agency estimates that one out of five people in Ukraine is already using some food-coping strategies like reducing the size and number of meals and eating less food.
Adults are sacrificing meals or eating less so children can eat, said Phiri.
Russia began its war on Feb. 24. It has been met with international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
At least 1,081 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,707 injured, according to UN estimates, while cautioning that the true figure is likely far higher.
More than 3.7 million Ukrainians have also fled to neighboring countries, with over 6.5 million more displaced inside the country, according to the UN refugee agency. (Anadolu)