Dame Nia Griffith MP has spoken about the shocking conditions facing the people of Ukraine following a three day visit to the war torn country with a cross party group of MPs
In an interview with Carmarthenshire News Online the MP said that the visit was a ‘sobering experience’.
We asked Dame Nia Griffith what her first impressions of the country were on arrival. The Llanelli MP said: “It is a very sobering experience. It is a country that is sadly at war. You can see the destruction that was wrought last year when Putin’s army came very close to Kyiv. You can see the destruction of people’s homes, blocks of flats, primary schools and secondary schools. We are aware of the fighting in the East of the country. There is also a huge amount to do to repair and mend all parts of the country where infrastructure has been damaged and blown up. The amazing resilience of people when they are been battered like this is extraordinary.”
Asked if she was concerned people might be becoming desensitised to the war Dame Nia Griffith MP said: It certainly brings it home to you there when you are standing in the cold and your realising what it is like when they haven’t got heating or the electricity is put out. I think there is a real danger that people almost see it as part of the wallpaper. People do become desensitised and that is why it is so important that we bring this message back. There is a lot of compassion in our country. Many people have opened their homes to people from Ukraine and the problems are enormous. They are enormous for every single family and they are enormous for the community .”
The UK and international partners are united in support for Ukraine. The UK government is providing a range of economic, humanitarian and defensive military assistance to Ukraine, and is imposing additional sanctions on Russia and Belarus.
The UK has contributed £2.3bn in 2022 and trained 27,000 members of the Ukrainian Armed forces. The Prime Minister has announced a further £1 billion in military support to Ukraine.
Asked about the situation at home and the amount of money being spent in Ukraine as opposed to money for teachers, nurse, doctors and carers here in the UK Dame Nia Griffith MP said: “People are very angry but the point here is we are the sixth richest nation in the world. What we have got in our country is poor distribution of wealth. We have got wealth concentrated with some very well off people. We have got people who are literally starving in our own country and that is an absolute disgrace. So you are absolutely right. There is a huge amount to put right to ensure everybody has enough to eat. All those people who are working hard have pay rises which commensurate with inflation so that they can pay their way. It is a huge crisis that we are facing. Of course people will be questioning being able to send money and help elsewhere. What we have to do is make sure we have our system working much better.”
Asked about the corruption in Ukraine and whether there will be safeguards in place and if the aid will be monitored and people held accountable Dame Nia Griffith replied: “I think on the issue of corruption certainly the people we met were aware that putting right issues on corruption has to come before reconstruction. We were privileged to meet a former government minister who is now heading up an international gas company. He was very clear that they have to put their house in order. They have a huge leap to make and they realise that. They realise that if they have any wish to be more integrated with the West whether it be through NATO or the European Union or simply as a closer neighbour they have got to put their house in order. In terms of support and help I think very often it is good to be in touch with smaller organisations where you do know exactly where the help is going. In Llanelli we have been very lucky that Rotary has been able to help and been in touch with Rotary in Poland, people on the ground who know more about what’s happening. I was privileged to be with a very small organisation which takes things that people have actually asked for, in this case it was electricity generators because they have had their electricity cut off.”
Asked about the difference in money spent between Ukraine as opposed to Turkey and Syria and if there would be equal amounts spent in those countries the MP said:” I think it is a tremendous tribute to British people that money has come from British people giving money voluntarily, making he effort themselves to go online and make those donations. It is a tremendous tribute to their generosity. When you see the destruction it is absolutely horrific. We all imagine how dreadful it would be if it were our families and our town. It is difficult as you say in the circumstances people are in. It will not be put right in five minutes it is going to be a very long haul for Turkey and Syria and we need to continue to support them.”
We asked if the MP was planning to go back soon and if she was continuing to be involved in the aid drive. Nia Griffith replied: “Not necessarily go out myself. It may be more useful for me to speak up. It may be more useful for me to help source some of the things that are needed out there and work with the people who are taking things out. We will certainly help along those lines. We will keep in touch with some members of Parliament to make sure that we know what they are saying and what’s happening. I think it is very important to have those channels of communication and to be in touch with people who are on the ground.”
Asked if she was concerned about the demonisation of Russian people and if there was a debate or discussion to be had in relation to people suffering in Russia the MP said: “I think the issue there is it is Putin that has decided to invade another country. As you say there are Russians who are incredibly brave. They are demonstrating in a country where they know that the punishment can be death, it can be long imprisonment. It can be all sorts of unpleasant treatment. I think the issue is as you say, many of them are very brave in speaking up. Many of them have been conscripted. I am sure their families do not want them to be there. As you say to separate out the particular regime and the decisions made by that regime from the general population.”
You can listen to the complete interview here: