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UN report: 90 percent of Ukrainians could face poverty within a year

Nine in 10 Ukrainians could face poverty within the next 12 months and the country could be set back by almost two decades in terms of economic advancement if Russia’s invasion continues, according to U.N. projections.

The early data released Wednesday by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine becomes “protracted,” almost one-third of the country’s citizens would fall below the poverty line and another 62 percent would face a “serious risk” of doing so. It also estimates that 18 years of socio-economic progress would be undone.

The three weeks of war in Ukraine have so far resulted in more than 1,700 civilian casualties; pushed more than 3 million refugees across the country’s borders; and destroyed around $100 billion worth of infrastructure, according to Ukrainian government estimates. A report by UNICEF on Tuesday also estimated the conflict was creating a new child refugee almost every second.

“While the need for immediate humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians is of the utmost importance, the acute development impacts of a protracted war are now becoming more apparent,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, adding there is “still time to halt this grim trajectory.”

The UNDP recommended large-scale cash assistance to help mitigate this rise in poverty levels. It also urged other countries to help fund a daily “temporary basic income” for Ukrainians and said donating $250 million a month to the country could prevent 2.6 million people from falling into poverty.

Talks between Russia and Ukraine aimed at ending the conflict continued on Tuesday, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hinting at a compromise. Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to travel to Brussels later this month to meet European leaders at a special NATO summit on March 24 — exactly one month after Russian forces first began their full-scale assault on Ukraine.

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