human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Ukraine: urgent action needed

Caritas at the United Nations

On 28 September, at the 36th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Caritas delivered a statement concerning the worrying situation in Ukraine. This statement follows the statement delivered at the 34th regular session in March and urges the international community to take immediate action. The humanitarian situation in Ukraine has not changed since March. It remains very difficult and continues to even deteriorate. Preprated by Caritas Ukraine, this statement is based on information gathered by Caritas when assisting the affected people. It highlights the challenges that remain for the humanitarian response and calls the involved stakeholders to move from words to action.

Oral statement submitted by Caritas Internationalis
36th regular session
Agenda Item 10: Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral report on Ukraine
Geneva, 26 September 2017

Mr. President,

Caritas Internationalis thanks the OHCHR for the valuable oral update on Ukraine. Earlier this year, Caritas Internationalis had expressed already before this august assembly deep concern about the dire humanitarian situation in the country, which has deprived millions of Ukrainians of their basic needs and fundamental human rights, and the number of IDPs remains considerable.

Unfortunately, the situation has not improved today. Responding to basic humanitarian needs and provide adequate social assistance to the most vulnerable groups of the population (especially women, children and elderly), remains a huge challenge.

Now more than 58.3% of the population lives below the poverty line[1], 3.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance (including 1 million children)[2] and the number of IDPs is on the rise again[3]. The proportion of the employed among all internally displaced persons in Ukraine increased from 35% on March 2016 to 46% in June 2017, but the majority of IDPs still rely heavily on government support and humanitarian aid, with 61% of the respondents indicating financial support received from the government among the main sources of their income. Currently there are 186 humanitarian actors delivering aid in Ukraine. Although only 21% of necessary funding for 2017 was covered by different donor structures.

The impact of the conflict will continue to erode the coping capacity of the local communities, especially in the areas close to the zone of conflict.

Concrete actions shall be taken, especially by local authorities, to lift people out of poverty and guarantee the respect of their basic economic, social and cultural rights through effective implementation of structural social reforms (“Strategy of Poverty Reduction”) approved by the cabinet of Ministers in April 2016 and innovative laws and standards in the area of social policy.

Mr. President,

Ukraine was and remains a forgotten and invisible humanitarian crisis. Caritas is therefore grateful to the regular reports and updates provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which continues to remind all of us that millions of innocent civilians are suffering the consequences of the war.

However, words alone do not feed (our) children and ensure their access to schools, words alone do not provide adequate healthcare to (our) elderly and sick people, nor give hope to the youngest generation for a better future, nor effective protection to women against violence. Words are simply not enough.

We therefore call on the Human Rights Council, the international community and the concerned parties to go beyond politics and words, and take urgent measures and actions to ensure effective protection of the most vulnerable and respect of fundamental human rights and dignity of all Ukrainians.

I thank you Mr. President.


[1] Institute of Demography and Social Surveys, the National Academy of Science of Ukraine).
[2] Cf. OCHA
[3] 1,593,466 in 12 June 2017, Ministry of Social Policy.