World Bank says $411bn cost to rebuild war-torn Ukraine

World Bank said the figure of $411bn over the next 10 years should be considered a minimum as the war continues.

Ukrainian soldier carries a portable anti-aircraft missile system in the area of the heaviest battles with the Russian invaders in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Roman Chop)
Ukrainian soldier carries a portable anti-aircraft missile system in the area of the heaviest battles with Russian forces in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on March 15, 2023 [File: Roman Chop/AP Photo]

A World Bank report has estimated it will cost Ukraine $411bn over the next 10 years to recover and rebuild from Russia’s war on the country, with the bill for cleaning up the rubble from devastated towns and cities standing at $5bn alone.

The report released on Wednesday said that estimates “should be considered as minimums as needs will continue to rise as long as the war continues”.

Produced jointly by Ukraine’s government, the World Bank, the European Commission and the United Nations, the $411bn assessment marked an increase from the $349bn estimated in a report released by the bank in September.

The report details some of the economic and human toll of Russia’s war, including nearly 2 million homes damaged, more than one in five public health institutions damaged, 650 ambulances damaged or stolen and at least 9,655 civilians confirmed dead, including 461 children.

Ukraine’s reconstruction will “take several years”, the World Bank’s Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Anna Bjerde said on Wednesday.

The report calculates $135bn in direct damage to buildings and infrastructure so far, not counting the broader economic fallout from the more than year-long conflict.

But the damage could have been even worse if not for the defence mounted by Ukrainian forces, which had kept the worst of the destruction confined to the front-line regions of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Kherson, Bjerde said in a call with reporters.

The evaluation expects Kyiv to require $14bn for critical and priority reconstruction as well as recovery investments in 2023 alone. The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that it reached a staff-level agreement with Ukraine for a four-year financing package worth about $15.6bn.

Despite Russia’s fierce onslaught, Ukraine continues to maintain essential public services, including keeping schools and hospitals open, paying the salaries of teachers and civil servants as well as paying pensions, the World Bank said in February.

“Supporting these critical services continues to be a priority, and Ukraine needs about $3-4 billion per month to sustain them,” the bank’s Bjerde wrote at the time.

Russia’s invasion has displaced millions of Ukrainians. Global food and energy prices have also surged as a result of the war.

To date, the World Bank said, Russia’s invasion has undone 15 years of economic progress in Ukraine, cutting its gross domestic product by 29 percent and pushing 1.7 million Ukrainians into poverty.

The report said it was essential to keep Ukraine’s government, private business sector and recovery efforts going even amid the attacks and raging fighting in the east of the country. For Ukraine to postpone rebuilding risks the country “settling into a situation of low or no growth and facing huge social challenges once the war ends”, the bank said.

Ukraine’s energy sector has seen the greatest surge in damage recently as a result of Russia’s targeted attacks on the electrical grid and other energy hubs during the winter in a bid to freeze the Ukrainian population and leadership in Kyiv into submission.

Total damage to the energy sector is now five times greater than it was last summer, the World Bank said.

“Energy infrastructure, housing, critical infrastructure, economy and humanitarian demining are our five priorities for this year,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said in a statement on Wednesday.

Shmyhal also warned that “the amount of damage and recovery needs currently does not include data on the loss of infrastructure, housing and businesses in the occupied territories”.

Ukrainian authorities will start restoration work in these territories when they are liberated, he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies