António Guterres was addressing a one-day international summit in Paris, with leaders from around 50 nations reportedly in attendance, where agreement was reached to deliver some €1 billion in new financing to help repair the energy grid, water systems and health facilities, damaged by Russian missile attacks.
The Secretary-General said that around 10 million consumers were without electricity with millions cut off from essential water and heat, as winter temperatures plummet.
“Over the past few months, humanitarians have provided more than 630,000 civilians with direct winter assistance, and 400 generators have been distributed to critical facilities”, he added.
“But all of this is a drop in the bucket. The scale of destruction across the country requires strong support from the international community – going far beyond humanitarian aid.
“We must invest in Ukraine’s resilient recovery and reconstruction to prevent the current crisis from cascading into poverty, hunger and destitution for millions of Ukrainians.”
Earlier, the UN health agency, WHO, issued a fresh warning about the physical and mental toll on those living with the conflict.
The agency confirmed that health services in Ukraine have continued to come under fire, with at least 715 confirmed attacks on medical facilities and workers, since the Russian invasion on 24 February.
In Geneva, WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris also appealed for access to people with HIV in dangerous or inaccessible areas in the east of Ukraine:
“We’re very concerned about the large numbers of people with HIV; people in the Donetesk region particularly, who’ve not been able to receive their medication. We really need humanitarian corridors, we really need the opportunity, the chance to help the many, many people in need.”
Dr. Harris explained that repeated attacks on power infrastructure have led to daily power cuts for many, and left people little choice but to burn what they can find to stay warm, often in cramped and unventilated spaces.
These fires are particularly harmful to the lungs of children and old people she said, adding that there has also been a “large rise” in respiratory illnesses such as bronchiolitis and bronchitis.
A “big flu surge” is also underway, and there are concerns about diptheria and measles breaking out in large unvaccinated populations, the WHO spokesperson said.
The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, is on the ground for the second day of his visit to the country spending Tuesday in Kherson, one month after Government troops regained control of Ukraine’s second largest city.
UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, told correspondents in New York that in the past couple of days, “many homes and other civilian infrastructure, including a school and a medical facility, were damaged by shelling, according to the local authorities.”
In the past month, humanitarian convoys have been bringing water, food, medicines, blankets and other essential items for Kherson’s civilian population, including generators for hospitals and schools so they can continue operating.
“Mr. Griffiths visited one of 22 resilience points, which are places for people to warm up, when the energy crisis leaves them with no electricity and no heating at home”, said Mr. Dujarric.