Here are six things you should know about the situation in Ukraine.
1. Over 1.4 million people have been registered as internally displaced across the country
Where a displacement crisis continues for six years, the prospects for displaced people to integrate into local communities or achieve lasting solutions remain uncertain. With resources stretched to the limit, many displaced families still face discrimination and experience challenges in finding housing and accessing services, as well as securing stable employment. Twelve per cent of internally displaced people in Ukraine have had their social payments suspended since registering.
2. More than 13,000 people have been killed, a quarter of them civilians, and over 30,000 have been injured (over 7,000 of them civilians) since the beginning of the conflict
The hostilities take a heavy toll on civilians. The direct impact on ordinary people remains a challenge as daily shelling and the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnances continue to affect physical and mental wellbeing.
Community infrastructure and civilian assets are also attacked, putting millions at risk of losing access to water, health, education and heating.
More than 55,000 residential buildings on both sides of the “contact line” have been damaged or destroyed, in addition to schools, hospitals and water facilities.
Estimates suggest that two million people are affected by mine contamination within the 20-kilometre area on both sides of the “contact line”. This poses lethal risks and keeps people from working on their farms or even collecting firewood. Over 1,000 casualties related to mines and explosives have been recorded since 2014.
3. Every month over one million people cross the contact line despite deadly risks of shelling, landmines and explosives
Civilians have to cross the contact line through five entry-exit checkpoints serving the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions. They cross to visit their families, go shopping at the market, obtain documents or access essential state services, as well as to check on their property. Most of those people are over 60 years old and travel to access their pension, which is their only source of income.
People queue at the checkpoints for hours, even in harsh winter conditions or under the scorching summer sun. While there have been improvements in the crossing conditions, over 90 people have died due to health complications at the checkpoints in just the last two years. Despite the considerable efforts made by the government and humanitarian community, checkpoints still lack basic services such as hygiene facilities, drinking water and first aid.
4. Over 530,000 people are food insecure and about 480,000 require livelihood support
The protracted crisis has stretched people’s resources to breaking point. Rising prices and a reduction in industrial production, coupled with high levels of unemployment, have affected people’s abilities to provide for themselves and their families. People in eastern Ukraine are often forced to make impossible choices on whether to buy food, medicine or send their children to school.
Weakened social protection systems, disrupted access to markets and the suspension of social benefits have severely affected those who are the most at risk, such as older people, single-parent households and people with disabilities.
5. Access to rights is a challenge for the conflict-affected population
Almost 700,000 retired people do not receive their pension because of restrictive policies linking the payment of pensions with the requirement to register as an internally displaced person.
Over 50 per cent of children born after 2014 in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are currently not under the control of the Ukrainian authorities, have not received a birth certificate issued by the Government of Ukraine, which means that they cannot access education or health services and are at risk of becoming stateless.
Formal confirmation of deaths in these areas also remains difficult to obtain, which leads to challenges concerning inheritance and property rights.
6. Humanitarian response is being underfunded
Despite the impact of the ongoing crisis, the humanitarian response has been hampered by a lack of funding.
The ability of humanitarians to meet the needs of the affected population depends on the level of funding. Ukraine was ranked fifth in NRC’s list of the world’s most neglected displacement crises in 2019. In 2018, the humanitarian response plan was only 37 per cent funded, making it one of the most severely underfunded appeals. Despite a slight increase in 2019, funding has remained low, limiting the response.
The humanitarian community reaches just over one million people annually – only half of those in need – due to limited resources and lack of access.
NRC has worked across Ukraine since 2014 helping conflict-affected people to repair their damaged or destroyed houses and become self-sufficient through business grants, professional training and development projects. We also provide legal services to enable displaced and other affected people to exercise their rights.
Since the beginning of our activities in Ukraine, we have managed to aid over 159,000 people.