In February, “Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his premeditated, unprovoked, unjustified, and brutal invasion of Ukraine,” said Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. And in just those few weeks, “Russia’s ceaseless bombardment of Ukraine’s cities and critical infrastructure has created one of the fastest-growing humanitarian crises in recent decades.”
“In just five weeks, nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s population has been displaced, including more than half of the nation’s children. In just five weeks, more than four million people have fled Ukraine as refugees. Now, the World Food Program warns that 45 percent of the people in Ukraine – nearly half of the people living in one of the world’s great breadbaskets – are concerned about having enough to eat.”
Speaking at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Humanitarian Impact of Russia’s War Against Ukraine, Deputy Secretary Sherman urged the international community to help provide food, water, shelter, and medicine for the Ukrainian people, and to support Ukraine’s neighbors, who have taken in millions of refugees. “The United States is committed to doing our part to ease the human suffering caused by this war in Ukraine and elsewhere around the world,” she said.
“The United States is prepared to provide more than $1 billion in new humanitarian assistance for the Ukrainian people, those fleeing to neighboring countries, and those around the world feeling the effects of Putin’s war, including rising food insecurity.”
“But the fact remains,” Deputy Secretary Sherman, “that so long as Putin continues his war, so long as Russian forces continue to bombard Ukrainian cities and block aid convoys, so long as besieged civilians are unable to get to safety, this humanitarian crisis will only get worse – in Ukraine, for the Russian people, and around the world.”
“Russia must abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law on the protection of civilians, including those who are fleeing conflict and those who are providing humanitarian assistance."
“We hope – we really hope – that President Putin will commit seriously to the peace talks underway. But we are focused on what Russian forces do, not what Russia says. Not what Putin says,” Deputy Secretary Sherman.
“And ultimately, the only way to end this humanitarian catastrophe is through a durable ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory and away from Ukraine’s borders.”