The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an emergency operation to provide food assistance to people within Ukraine and in neighboring countries following an official request from the Ukrainian government, the UN agency said Monday.
The organization is calling for $570 million USD in order to provide support to refugees fleeing violence amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“We are deeply concerned for the impact of hostilities on the lives and livelihoods of civilians,” Margot van der Velden, WFP’s Director of Emergencies, said in a statement.
“As the situation evolves, there is a need to ensure that affected communities have continued access to any humanitarian support they may require and that the safety of humanitarian staff on the ground is guaranteed,” she added.
According WFP staff in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, “food supplies are running low” and grocery store shelves are “almost empty,” the statement added.
“Food shortages will be another obstacle facing residents of Kyiv, many of whom have taken shelter in metro stations,” the WFP added.
The UN agency has stated that its food assistance operation is also set to cover Romania and Poland initially, with the possibility to extend to Moldova and Slovakia.
Earlier on Monday, the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said more than 500,000 refugees had so far fled Ukraine to neighboring countries amid Russia’s ongoing invasion and military aggression.
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