Statement by Michael Despines, the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Regional Director for the Ukraine Crisis on the international donor conference “Solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” hosted in Paris on 13 December:

“The announcement of nearly $1 billion of new funding to meet serious needs in Ukraine through the rebuilding of critical health, food, water, transportation, energy infrastructure will help Ukrainians contend with plummeting temperatures and worsening humanitarian needs this winter. People are forced to live in damaged homes, without insulation or heating, or in buildings which cannot protect them from harsh winter conditions. What Ukrainians need right now is warmth and safety.

“Our teams on the ground report that power cuts due to attacks on civilian infrastructure and the power grid are hampering aid delivery. The past few days, our staff in Odesa have experienced first-hand the disastrous impact of power and heating cuts resulting from continued attacks. Amidst these challenging circumstances, we are committed to stay and deliver. 

 “Robust international support has prevented the worst case scenario from occurring in Ukraine, but that will only remain true as long as donors continue to adequately support the humanitarian response. Donors who pledged in Paris today need to ensure that new funding has a people-centred approach at its core, and guarantee that financial support goes directly to NGOs, local civil society and women-led organisations operating on the frontlines of the Ukraine response. 

“This rapid convening of donors, including from new sources, demonstrates what the international community can accomplish when there is sufficient will. We call on donors to robustly support humanitarian responses around the world as robustly and generously.”