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Bibee: The humanitarian situation in Ukraine requires our continued support

The ongoing war in Ukraine, as all violent conflicts, has resulted in profound suffering. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed a staggering toll of 29,731 civilian casualties in Ukraine between Feb. 24, 2022, and Jan. 21, 2024. Among these, 10,287 civilians lost their lives, while 19,444 suffered injuries, although the actual numbers are likely even higher. There is an urgent need for heightened action from all stakeholders to address the escalating humanitarian crisis.

Indiscriminate attacks and bombings persist across Ukraine, leading to the widespread displacement of civilians. Throughout 2023, the U.N. recorded over 47,000 incidents involving armed clashes, airstrikes and other forms of violence — an increase of over 12,000 from the previous year. The assaults have destroyed critical civilian infrastructure including schools, hospitals and energy facilities, worsening the difficulties communities encounter in accessing vital services and resources.

As 2024 unfolds, the conflict is expected to persist, indicating a protracted situation ahead — one that requires sustained attention from the international community. The eastern and southern regions of Ukraine are particularly unstable, with frequent shelling and attacks targeting civilian infrastructure daily. Millions of individuals remain displaced within Ukraine and across the wider region, with approximately 3.7 million internally displaced persons in Ukraine and 5.9 million refugees and asylum-seekers throughout Europe. Given the gravity of the situation and its far-reaching impacts, it is imperative that all stakeholders, beyond just the U.S. government, recognize their responsibility to contribute to alleviating the plight of those affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

Among the refugee population from Ukraine, women and children account for over 80% of those displaced. The humanitarian situation is dire, with a predicted 14.6 million people in Ukraine requiring urgent assistance, including vulnerable groups such as individuals with disabilities, the elderly and children.


In the past, the global response to the displacement caused by the conflict in Ukraine was swift and compassionate. Amid the influx of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees into the United States following Russia’s invasion, the Biden administration announced the Uniting for Ukraine program in April 2022. This initiative provided approved Ukrainian applicants with two years of humanitarian parole for entry into the United States. In August 2023, the Biden administration took action by extending and redesignating Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine for 18 months, offering work authorization and safeguarding against deportation for eligible Ukrainian nationals in the country. But as the long-term nature of the war becomes more and more apparent, these temporary extensions begin to feel insufficient.

Of course, these initiatives are not the only measure the United States is taking to support Ukranians. On Feb. 27, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services unveiled a re-parole process specifically tailored for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members already residing in the United States. This measure aims to provide continued support and assistance to Ukrainian individuals and families seeking refuge and stability in the United States.

However, addressing the root causes of the Ukrainian conflict and working towards sustainable peace requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders. Institutions like Brown University, specifically the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, are uniquely positioned to contribute to these efforts. Through initiatives like the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies and the Global Fellows program, the Watson Institute can offer valuable expertise and resources to support peacebuilding efforts.

By leveraging its diverse expertise and conducting collaborative research initiatives, the Watson Institute can generate actionable recommendations for policymakers and practitioners. Furthermore, through partnerships with international organizations and civil society groups, the Center can provide vital assistance to vulnerable populations affected by the conflict, promoting human rights and accountability.

As the world grapples with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, it is incumbent upon institutions like the Watson Institute to harness their expertise to advance peace and stability in the region.

Justin D. Bibee is the assistant director for the refugee resettlement department at Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island and a 2024 Global Fellow at the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies at Brown University. He can be reached at Please send responses to this op-ed to and other op-eds to


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