Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska Asks WEF Attendees for More Aid to 'Build Back Better'

This article was originally published at The Post Millennial, a part of the Human Events Media Group.

At a Wednesday press conference at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska took the stage to again ask for financial help from individuals and governments around the world, arguing that the country needs to "build back better" after the war. 

"We need to rebuild better than how it was in the past. Build back better. This renewal will mean a more profound change, in a more profound sense," she said.

When asked about the status of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, Zelenska cited "IDPs," meaning internally displaced persons, "destruction of housing and infrastructure," and the "ruination of people's lives" at the hands of Russia.

"Russia is adding more and more trials for our country. At the start of the winter, they started ruining our infrastructure to make sure it descends into darkness and [ruin.]," the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

The summit also featured an earlier address from Zelenska, where she criticized the organization for looking to "achieve climate neutrality," while being unable to have "stopped the burning of entire cities in Ukraine."

Carrying on from her earlier speech were she addressed the president's 10-point peace plan, which includes bringing back Ukraine's power grid, the release of "all prisoners and deportees, including war prisoners and children deported to Russia," and restoring Ukraine's sovereign borders, Zelenska expanded on the help needed.

"Apart from the overall problem that we're experiencing, now there's a problem with heating and electricity. In many regions of our country, people are getting electricity for only a few hours a day. And in those regions that are close to the frontlines, they are competing to cut off from any infrastructure as well," the First Lady said.

"So the foundation is helping to meet the needs of these people who are still in the occupied territories, these people often living in-half destroyed homes, and we're doing everything we can to provide warmth and light for them," she continued. "This can be anything. It can be diesel generators, heaters of any kind, blankets, sleeping bags, even self-made iron stoves where people can warm themselves. Even firewood and food. But we don't just get things together, we make sure that the things we have go to these people, actually reach those who need it most."

The First Lady went on to condemn Russian attacks on medical facilities, citing looting of a hospital in the city of Izyum by enemy troops.

"Unfortunately, since the start of the war, our enemy has been destroying our healthcare infrastructure and facilities. And what the foundation does, is to rebuild those medical facilities that are desperately needed by the people in those communities," she said. "I will give you an example — the down hospital in Izyum. In Izyum, around 100,000 people lived before the war. It was then occupied. Unfortunately, most of the buildings, most of the infrastructure in the town was destroyed. When the enemy was retreating, the Russians looted the hospital and nothing much is left. However, the doctors of the hospital stayed, and even in these conditions they continue to work."

Zelenska also listed issues with getting children back to in-person education due to schools being "constantly shelled," and funding to provide teachers with laptops.

Concluding her statements was a call to "build back better," a phrase frequently used by the administration of American President Joe Biden.

"We need to rebuild better than how it was in the past. Build back better. This renewal will mean a more profound change, in a more profound sense," she said.

When asked about the "possibility of Ukraine fatigue," by a reporter, the First Lady appeared to be annoyed at the question.

"To be completely honest with you, I already have the fatigue of the questions about the fatigue. Other people may be fatigued by the Ukraine fatigue," she responded. "But to be honest, at this summit, I do not see the signs of fatigue… to me it seems like an exaggeration. I think this may be a part of the information warfare because I think our enemy would be very happy if people were fatigued by Ukraine."

Image: Title: Olena Zelenska


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