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“Fastest influx of refugees since World War II”

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Faced with the humanitarian emergency in Ukraine, the director of the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, Catherine Russell, calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to put an immediate end to his army’s attacks.

“You must stop this war! He is terrible. His effects on children are unacceptable and abominable,” Russell told the German Press Agency. The local population and fleeing women and children are “completely innocent” and have nothing to do with the conflict, Russell said. “You don’t deserve this.”

The American, who has held the position since February, traveled this week from New York to Germany to discuss, among other things, the situation in Ukraine with representatives of the federal government. Germany is the second largest donor to Unicef ​​in the world.

Russell expressed grave concern about developments in Ukraine, where Russian attacks continued three weeks after the war began on February 24. 148 Unicef ​​employees are still in the country to provide people with essentials, Russell reported.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]

According to the aid organization, it has set up 26 contact points, so-called “Blue Dots”, along escape routes to provide care for refugees and mediate bureaucratic obstacles. It’s also about registering people, Russell explained. The aid organization also makes sure there is no human trafficking or children being taken away by strangers.

“It is the fastest influx of refugees since the Second World War. That is a big challenge for the receiving countries,” said Russell. Also in Germany one has to ask how and in what language so many children and young people want to be taught.

More about the Ukrainian war on Tagesspiegel Plus:

In conversations on the Ukrainian border with Romania, I often heard that the refugees wanted to “go home soon”. But experience has shown that this is not very realistic, Russell said.

The head of UNICEF also recalled the situation of children in other crisis areas such as Afghanistan and Yemen, who are currently no longer in the public eye. In Afghanistan, for example, there is currently a “terrible humanitarian crisis.” The children were in danger of starvation. “We expect that in the next two to three months, 95 percent of the population will be living below the poverty line,” Russell said.

His organization says it has 15,000 employees in 190 countries, most of them in developing and emerging countries and in crisis areas. (dpa)

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