Chairman Lynch, Ranking Member Grothman, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for convening us and for your focus on the humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine. 

I represent the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization providing aid in Ukraine, supporting refugees in Europe, and welcoming Ukrainian parolees in the US. We also operate in over 40 crisis-affected countries, giving us a global perspective on the cascading crises this conflict has unleashed.

Ukrainians, of course, are feeling the war's impact most directly. Thousands have been killed or injured and millions more have lost their jobs, their homes, and their hope. Nearly 14 million have been displaced – including two thirds of all children.  

Needs are worst in the south and east, where hundreds of thousands are trapped amidst intense fighting. 1.4 million people lack running water. Western and central Ukraine are comparatively calm and we are seeing more Ukrainian returnees than refugees. But missile strikes in Kyiv over the weekend remind us that stability is precarious. 

Already, over two hundred health facilities have been attacked. Over 1,800 schools have been damaged or destroyed. 90% of Ukrainians could fall below the poverty line - erasing two decades of economic growth. Nearly sixteen million Ukrainians need humanitarian assistance, but insecurity and access challenges are limiting the response. 

The war has spurred the fastest-moving refugee crisis since the Second World War - producing 7 million refugees, almost all women and children. Despite the inspiring welcome, the response is showing strains, especially on Ukraine’s neighbors. Most refugees remain in Poland, stressing housing stocks. Moldova, among Europe’s poorest countries, is hosting the most Ukrainians per capita and could see more if the conflict moves South. 

But the UN refugee response is 80% underfunded and donors have channeled most funding through UN agencies, rather than frontline implementers. Volunteers, local government, and private sector resources are filling gaps, but this will wane with time. 

In just 100 days, the fallout of this crisis has gone global. Ukraine and Russia produce a quarter of the world’s grain. With Black Sea ports blocked and millions of tons of grain trapped in silos, food prices are skyrocketing everywhere the IRC works. 

In Somalia, which depends on Russia and Ukraine for 92% of its grain, food prices have surged  40% to 100%. The costs of malnutrition treatments have soared, so we are reaching fewer of Somalia’s 1 million malnourished children. Water trucking costs have doubled– halving the number of Somalis we can supply with clean water.

The impacts span beyond Africa. Yemen depends on Ukraine for nearly half its wheat. Lebanon has limited grain stocks due to the 2020 port explosion. Food prices in Central America have surged. The UN warns 47 million more people will experience acute hunger this year -  adding to last year’s record 276 million

With all eyes on Ukraine, the UN flash appeal for the crisis is 75% funded. But appeals for other crises globally are less than 19% funded on average.

The IRC applauds Congress for allocating over $4 billion in emergency humanitarian funding. We urge the US to build on that step. 

First, while only an end to the fighting will ease the suffering, inside Ukraine, the US should:

  1. Prioritize diplomatic efforts to expand humanitarian access, including strengthening UN monitoring mechanisms to document the denial of access.
  2. Push the Government of Ukraine to remove barriers to cash-based aid, which is vital to meet needs - while giving Ukrainians agency and supporting local markets.
  3. Invest in protection services to meet unique needs of women, children, the elderly, and disabled. 

Second, to show solidarity with host communities in Europe, the US should:

  1. Together with other donors, increase funding to host countries, before private and local government funding decreases.
  2. Push for burden-sharing across Europe – both with respect to numbers of refugees hosted and equitable access to support. 
  3. Regularize the status of Ukrainian parolees in the US by passing a Ukrainian Adjustment Act.

Third, to mitigate the global hunger fallout, the US should:

  1. Commit additional funds to humanitarian contexts most dependent on Ukrainian and Russian exports. 
  2. Ensure US sanctions have clear guidance related to critical commodities like food and fertilizer.
  3. Catalyze a humanitarian diplomacy to open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, with countries most affected by grain shortages at the center.

But more aid is not enough, there must be more accountability. The dynamics of death, destruction, displacement, and denial of access are driving the misery. These tactics are not unique to Ukraine. The US should reaffirm its own commitments to international humanitarian law, ensure respect for it is a prerequisite for security partnerships and arms transfers – including for Ukraine – and support mechanisms to monitor violations in all conflict settings. The war in Ukraine should mark the end of impunity, not set a new precedent.

Thank you and I look forward to answering your questions.