Dear Member of Congress,
As your constituent, I am writing to urge you to use every diplomatic resource available to uphold international humanitarian law for the protection of civilians, and support unimpeded, sustained humanitarian access across Ukraine. This must include safe passage for civilians to leave, open and secure access for humanitarian aid to pass freely, and sparing civilian infrastructure.
February marks one year since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. At this moment, the humanitarian situation continues to worsen. Through January 22, 2023, the United Nations recorded 18,483 civilian casualties, including 7,068 killed, and the actual numbers are believed to be much higher. Civilians are caught in the crossfire, often unable to escape. They urgently require humanitarian aid, but safe and unhindered humanitarian access continues to be denied.
Throughout the past year, there have been numerous attacks on residential buildings, schools, healthcare facilities, and workers. Targeting civilian infrastructure is a clear breach of the laws of war. The damage has caused disruptions to water, gas, electricity, communication supplies, and heat during the harsh winter months. As of December, up to half of Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure has been destroyed, and sustained attacks on the power grid edge it closer and closer to collapse. Searching for firewood during frigid winter temperatures can risk exposure to landmines, which injure civilians daily.
Civilians and civilian infrastructure are not a target. They have a right to access humanitarian aid and a right to flee violence. Those remaining in Ukraine lack access to basic needs, including food, water, medicine, and electricity. While millions have fled their homes, the people who remain are more likely to be older persons and people with disabilities, who must cope with less support. As the conflict enters another year, I urge you to prioritize humanitarian access at the highest level so aid can reach the most vulnerable. We cannot leave people in the dark, cold, and at risk.
Thank you for your consideration.