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Ukraine's infrastructure damage could blow country's economy post-war

Russia Ukraine War
Posted at 12:51 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 12:51:35-04

About a month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the devastation on the ground is searing.

Hundreds of civilians have been confirmed dead, and rubble is visible as far as the eye can see.  

The U.N. is now warning that up to 90% of people in Ukraine could fall into poverty if the war continues.

“It’s 18 years of socioeconomic progress that is basically being erased should the war continue and deepen," said Gerd Trogemann, manager of the United Nations Development Program's regional hub for Europe.

Trogemann tells Newsy Russia’s consistent shelling of Ukrainian infrastructure is particularly concerning. 

“It’s access to every form of everyday life that is either hampered or become totally impossible for people on the ground," he said.

According to the Ukrainian government, at least $100 billion worth of infrastructure has already been obliterated — buildings, roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools. 

Russian airstrikes have also cut off water and electricity for tens of thousands of people. Experts say that can unleash contamination and infectious disease. 

There are also long-term health and environmental risks associated with the aftermath of Russian bombs.

“We're trying to keep track of this together with the government and with the U.N. partners on the ground using satellite imagery, using social media tools," Trogemann said. 

The employment picture is just as dire.

Ukrainian officials say half of all businesses have been forced to permanently shut down, with those still in business hanging by a thread.

Without a solid plan to help Ukraine rebuild itself, experts say it could become a failed state and possibly a magnet for trafficking, terrorism, and other illicit activities.

“We have an opportunity to support the government of Ukraine in its effort to maintain its delivery of services to the people, either through medical aid, either through food aid, through cash aid, through other means," Trogemann said.

Northwestern University development economist Nancy Qian says long-term help will be needed regardless of the war’s outcome. 

“Rwanda is a good example," Qian said. "The Hutus got aid, the Tutsis got aid; everyone got aid because they were starving, so that's going to be a hard question for the west and for aid donors if it comes to that."

Qian praises the U.N. for bringing attention to Ukraine’s current and future needs before people move on. 

“Once the conflict is over, sometimes we forget about them, so it's good to talk about this now when people are charged up, motivated and willing," Qian said.

Newsy is the nation’s only free 24/7 national news network. You can find Newsy using your TV’s digital antenna or stream for free. See all the ways you can watch Newsy here: https://bit.ly/Newsy1.