Speech from Matilda Ernkrans

Remarks by Minister for International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs Matilda Ernkrans, at the Joint Launch of the Humanitarian Flash Appeal and the Regional Refugee Response Plan for Ukraine


1 March 2022. As delivered.

Secretary-General, Excellencies, Colleagues,

Sweden condemns in the strongest possible terms the Russian aggression and invasion of a country in the heart of Europe. The invasion of Ukraine is a flagrant violation of international law and in complete contradiction of the UN Charter. Russia bears full responsibility.

Through your appeals, we start to see the grave humanitarian consequences. It is indeed shocking to hear that up to 18 million people may need humanitarian assistance.

But we all heard the numbers – each representing individuals who are forced to flee, whose lives are being shattered, whose safety is under threat. We must focus on how we can demonstrate our solidarity and alleviate human suffering.

Sweden is ready to substantially increase its response. We welcome today’s launch of the flash appeal and the refugee response plan.

Last night, the Government decided to allocate an additional 53 million US dollars to humanitarian assistance in Ukraine. This is in addition to 13 million US dollars already allocated last week. We are ready to disburse this funding urgently.

These contributions are also in addition to our significant un-earmarked funding to all UN agencies operating in Ukraine, as well as to the Central Emergency Response Fund, CERF. This has allowed the UN and ICRC to conduct contingency planning, to respond rapidly and to scale up without waiting for appeals, responses and disbursements.

As we respond to support these appeals, we must not forget about other humanitarian crises in the world. Our support to the people of Ukraine must not take place at the expense of assisting people in Yemen, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. These are exceptional times that require exceptional decisions.

In a situation such as this, it is of utmost importance to respect international humanitarian law, to protect civilians and civilian objects and to protect essential civilian infrastructure. Rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access must be ensured.

I would like to express our deepest appreciation for all brave humanitarian workers who are working tirelessly to assist those who have been forced to flee.

The time to assist the people of Ukraine in a time of dire needs is now. I hope that everyone will respond generously to the appeals that you have just launched.

Thank you.