Immediate ceasefire needed to aid civilians in Ukraine

Published 03. Mar 2022
Statement by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council:

“We call for an immediate truce that can end hostilities and enable life-saving relief. This ceasefire must end the fierce fighting in and around densely populated areas across Ukraine, which paralyzes the humanitarian work of aid organisations on the ground. We cannot come to the relief of vulnerable communities engulfed by war when our aid workers are in bomb shelters and fleeing from attacks.

We cannot save lives under a hail of bombs and grenades.

The elderly, the disabled and families with children are stuck in towns under airstrikes and shelling without safe passage and no means of transportation. Millions are now in frontline locations. With empty shops, overwhelmed healthcare, and no electricity or safe water, local and international aid groups on the ground must urgently resume our work.

There are mounting numbers of civilian casualties across the country, disproportionally reported from Eastern Ukraine, where I visited in early February. These areas have more elderly, disabled and isolated communities than elsewhere. Families with children and elderly pensioners cannot escape the inferno they are living through.

Our courageous humanitarian colleagues on the ground tell us of continuous horrific attacks and fighting since the start of the invasion. It is now increasingly difficult for their families to find food and other vital necessities, because empty shops are not resupplied. People are cut off from electricity, water, healthcare, and basic services and have to spend days and nights in bunkers. Local communities are trying to organise themselves and support the most vulnerable, but are often unable to do so due to the lack of fuel.

The madness must stop. The men who started this war sit in safe and comfortable offices. They can end it today and resume meaningful political talks. Defenceless civilians are paying the highest price for their senseless war.”

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• NRC global media hotline:, +47 905 62 329.