A UN-led development plan for Ukraine launched on Monday, to provide immediate economic help and longer-term assistance to the millions left struggling to meet basic needs, in the wake of the Russian invasion.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) aims to counter the devastation that’s been caused by the shelling of cities and early projections that two decades of economic progress could be lost, if the war continues.

The announcement came as The World Bank issued an alert that Ukraine’s economy is set to shrink by 45 per cent this year, because of the war.

Hit by unprecedented sanctions, Russia’s economy has already plunged into a deep recession with output projected to contract by 11.2 percent in 2022, The World Bank also noted.

Committed to stay

“The war in Ukraine continues to inflict immense human suffering…with nine out of 10 people at risk of falling into poverty,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “As part of a coordinated UN response, UNDP has an unwavering commitment to stay and deliver for the people of Ukraine.”

While there is no denying the immense human suffering that the Russian aggression has caused, UNDP chief, Achim Steiner, insisted that it was vital to ensure that local economies continued to function and that people livelihoods were protected.

Thanks to UNDP’s longstanding presence across Ukraine, it has the infrastructure to support the Government’s emergency response and the delivery of vital public services.

There’s a particular focus on helping the most vulnerable people in Ukraine at a community level, in particular all women who are at increased risk of violence, including conflict-related sexual violence.

To help empower women and girls, UNDP insists that they must have fair access to basic needs and livelihood support – including business support and access to finance, networks and markets.

The agency’s initiative also seeks to meet immediate humanitarian needs by leveraging Ukraine’s “human capital, economic capacities and natural resources”, and strengthen civil society to help uphold human rights for people’s “inclusion, protection and empowerment” in the recovery, UNDP said in a statement.

Regional shockwaves

Outside Ukraine, the impact of the Russian invasion has already translated to serious concerns among humanitarians about global food insecurity, as production in Ukraine of many cereals and other staples has been hit.

Sanctions on Moscow have also hit economies around the globe, according to The World Bank, which said that emerging markets and developing countries in Europe and Central Asia were expected to “bear the brunt”.

In its latest economic update, The World Bank forecast that the region’s economy was set to shrink by 4.1 per cent this year, compared with a pre-war forecast of three per cent growth.

“This would be the second contraction in as many years, and twice as large as the pandemic-induced contraction in 2020,” it said.

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