Swiss conference to discuss Ukraine recovery process

BERN, June 30 (Reuters) - An international conference will take place in Switzerland next Monday and Tuesday to discuss how to rebuild Ukraine after the devastation of its war with Russia.

The Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) in Lugano, southern Switzerland will host the biggest Ukrainian delegation to travel abroad since the beginning of the war.

They will meet representatives of other countries, international organisations and civil society.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal will be among the attendees, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will address the conference online.

Ukrainian and Swiss officials said on Thursday it was important to kick-start the recovery process even though the war, now in its fifth month, shows no signs of abating.

"Ukrainians want to go back home, we want them back home. We need to give them the critical infrastructure, hospitals, kindergartens, schools that were destroyed," Artem Rybchenko, Ukrainian ambassador to Switzerland, told reporters.

Almost 5.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia attacked it on Feb. 24, according to data published by the United Nations refugee agency.

The URC was first organised in 2017 in London as the Ukraine Reform Conference to assess the country's progress on reforms launched after the 2014 Maidan Revolution.

It was renamed for the Swiss edition this year to focus on the recovery process.

"Is it too early to talk about recovery? If you want to say what needs to be rebuilt and how much it will cost, yes, it's too early for that," said Simon Pidoux, Swiss Ambassador-at-Large for the URC2022.

"But we have to start talking about how we want to do it. That's the aim of the URC2022." (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Hugh Lawson)