Urgent need for increased humanitarian aid for Ukraine and diplomatic push to end war, participants say at OSCE PA webinar

110522 Amin Awad smallUN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine Amin AwadCOPENHAGEN, 11 May 2022 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly today held a virtual debate on “The role of the OSCE in addressing the war in Ukraine and its consequences.” With a keynote address by Amin Awad, the United Nations’ Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, the event included a discussion of possible OSCE initiatives in ending the war and alleviating its impact on the civilian population. The discussion served as a follow-up on a meeting that took place on 23 March.

Speakers included OSCE PA Margareta Cederfelt, Secretary General Roberto Montella, Head of Ukrainian Delegation to the OSCE PA Mykyta Poturaiev, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine Henrik Villadsen, OSCE PA High-Level Expert Lamberto Zannier, and the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Head of Delegation in Ukraine Pascal Hundt. Participants discussed the humanitarian crisis, the growing number of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the consequences for the OSCE of the violations of key principles embodied in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act.

In his remarks, Awad noted that the humanitarian situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, with the fastest growing displacement of people in Europe since World War II. He estimated that nearly 16 million people are in need of humanitarian aid, calling it “suffering on a colossal scale.” In response, the UN and more than 200 humanitarian partners have deployed across the country to support the humanitarian response, he said, but more must be done, with an important role to be played by the OSCE and its participating States.

“We must do more to meet the humanitarian needs of people,” he said. “We fear that by year end, 25 million people will need our support.” He added, “With nearly six million refugees and over eight million people internally displaced, durable solutions to their displacement cannot wait.” Awad also highlighted the dire effects on global food supplies, with Ukraine’s agricultural sector deeply impacted by the fighting. With this in mind, he urged an immediate end to the conflict.

President Cederfelt said that it is up to OSCE parliamentarians to encourage and support the use of the OSCE in helping to resolve the conflict, urging colleagues to utilize channels of diplomacy to stop the war. In this respect, Secretary General Montella announced the President's appointment of Austrian parliamentarian and OSCE PA Vice-President Reinhold Lopatka as the Assembly’s Special Representative for Parliamentary Dialogue on Ukraine.

Cederfelt and Montella described some of the PA’s work so far, noting that delegations visited Poland and Moldova to take stock of the situation facing refugees and address concerns related to human trafficking. SG Montella also stressed that the PA has been very clear in its public messaging, not just recently but going all the way back to 2014.

110522 PoturaievHead of Ukrainian Delegation Mykyta PoturaievJoining from Kyiv, Poturaiev described the horrific toll that the war is taking on civilians in Ukraine, with the Russian forces committing what he described as widespread war crimes. He said that Ukraine continues to count on OSCE parliamentarians’ active engagement to investigate and hold the Russian Federation accountable for alleged atrocities.

Amb. Villadsen, also in Kyiv, shared his views on what the OSCE can do now and after the “futile war” has ended. He emphasized that the PCU has maintained its presence in Ukraine throughout the conflict, noting that the OSCE is working with the Ukrainian government and continuing to deliver on projects in the politico-military, economic-environmental and human dimensions of security. Although humanitarian aid is not traditionally the role of the OSCE, he noted that it has become necessary in the current context.

“In order to act credibly in Ukraine, humanitarian assistance is an aspect that can simply not be ignored,” he said, emphasizing that “humanitarian needs are everywhere.” In this respect, he said, the PCU has assisted in supporting humanitarian efforts and is also working on mine action, including educating people on the dangers of unexploded ordnance, and combating trafficking in human beings. There is an ongoing need for continued OSCE engagement, he said.

Pascal Hundt from the International Committee of the Red Cross highlighted the ICRC’s work in Ukraine, including its efforts in establishing safe passages, and discussed the global impact of the war. Hundt appealed to the OSCE to contribute to resolving the conflict.

In the open debate, OSCE parliamentarians highlighted initiatives taken in their countries on the national level, including the implementation of sanctions and providing aid directly to Ukraine. It cannot be business as usual for the OSCE, it was stressed, with parliamentarians emphasizing the need for robust language in resolutions to be debated at the OSCE PA’s upcoming Annual Session this summer.

The OSCE can serve as one of the few places for dialogue with Russian officials, it was emphasized, but if it does not uphold the Helsinki principles, its future as an organization will be jeopardized. Calls were also raised to ensure respect for international law and pursue accountability for war crimes.

Video of today’s event is available here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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