As this week marks one year since the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), has reiterated global tourism sector’s support for Ukraine.
Describing the anniversary as a sad one, Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general, UNTWO, lamented that Russia’s action was in a clear breach of the charter of the United Nations and of international law.
The invasion, according to Pololikashvili, has exacted a terrible price as millions have been forced to flee their homes. “Right now, around 6 million people, 65 percent of them women and girls, are internally displaced. The number of casualties keeps growing by the day, including civilian victims as homes and even hospitals are deliberately targeted,” Pololikashvili said in a statement marking the anniversary.
“The invasion has also created a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe not seen in Europe since World War II”.
He also decried that the invasion has undermined the sense of security and trust the people depend on to get the world moving again after the impacts of the pandemic.
It would be recalled that from the very start, UNWTO has led tourism’s response to the crisis as members moved swiftly to suspend Russia from the organisation. At the same time, stakeholders from across the sector rallied in support of the Ukrainian people, about 8 million of who have sought refuge across Europe.
In regards to that, the UNWTO has commended tourism actors who provided them with means of transport, accommodation and other practical assistance, while also thanking countries hosting refugees until returning is safe.
“With no end in sight for the war, our solidarity must hold firm. This unwanted anniversary offers a moment to take stock and reflect.
“The past year has shown us the remarkable strength of a people determined to hold onto their freedom and sovereignty. It has also shown us the importance of standing together, both as an international community and as a major economic sector, and staying true to our shared values whatever the cost.
“With each passing day, the united front that much of the global community has adopted since the invasion is also under attack, especially as countries everywhere continue to feel the economic fallout of the conflict and its social cost.
“That’s why UNWTO will continue to amplify tourism’s calls for peace and urge an immediate end to all hostilities. We will also be there when the war ends, as it surely will,” the secretary-general said.
He insisted that tourism’s unique power, proven time and again, to build trust back, promote dialogue and understanding across borders, and provide opportunities, would be vital to help the people of Ukraine re-build the country they have already given so much to protect.