On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, escalating the eight-year conflict that had been ongoing in the country's eastern Donbas region. The invasion has caused widespread death, destruction, and displacement, and has left millions of Ukrainians in need of humanitarian assistance.
The humanitarian situation in Ukraine is extremely dire. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes, and many are living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Access to food, water, healthcare, and other essential services is severely limited in many areas. The winter months are approaching, and temperatures are expected to drop below freezing. This will create additional challenges for those who are already struggling to survive.
Severity of Needs
The severity of needs in Ukraine varies depending on the location. The areas that have been most affected by the conflict are those with the highest levels of need. These areas include the eastern Donbas region, the southern coastal region, and the capital city of Kyiv.
In the eastern Donbas region, the intensity of the conflict has been unprecedented, with shelling, artillery, and missile attacks occurring on a daily basis. This has led to widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, including homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes, and many are living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Access to food, water, healthcare, and other essential services is severely limited.
In the southern coastal region, the conflict has also had a devastating impact. Millions of people have been displaced, and many are living in informal settlements or with host families. Access to essential services is limited, and the risk of disease is high.
In the capital city of Kyiv, the conflict has caused significant damage, but the overall impact on the civilian population has been less severe than in other parts of the country. However, many people are still displaced, and access to essential services is limited.
More assistance is needed to help the people of Ukraine survive this crisis.
- The World Health Organization estimates that over 10 million people in Ukraine lack access to safe water.
- The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that over 2 million children in Ukraine have been displaced from their homes.
These are just a few examples of the severe needs that exist in Ukraine today. The international community must continue to provide assistance to the people of Ukraine, so that they can survive this crisis and rebuild their lives.
The most vulnerable populations include:
- Internally displaced people (IDPs)
- Women and children
- Older people
- People with disabilities
- People with chronic health conditions
The international community has responded to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with a massive relief effort. The United Nations and other humanitarian organizations have provided food, water, shelter, healthcare, and other assistance to millions of people. However, the needs are still immense, and more assistance is needed.
Eastern Ukraine has been subjected to an unprecedented scale and intensity of violence. Since the beginning of the invasion, three-quarters of all recorded political violence events occurred in eastern Ukraine, of which over two-thirds were attributed to shelling, artillery, and missile attacks. The ongoing intensity of conflict in this region limits analysis of the overall impact on the civilian population. The largest share of the still unknown (but extremely high) number of victims is likely collateral from fighting, and thus impossible to gauge at this point.
The city of Mariupol was the site of several mass casualty events ahead of the Russian occupation. On 16 March 2022, an airstrike on a theatre reportedly killed an estimated 300 people, while 200 bodies were found under the rubble of an apartment building believed to have been targeted by Russian forces. The city was also subjected to relentless shelling and artillery strikes, and many civilians were killed or injured in the crossfire.
- The conflict has had a devastating impact on the civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed or damaged, and millions of people have been displaced from their homes.
- Data from ACLED shows that the conflict has been extremely deadly, with over 5,000 reported civilian fatalities in events specifically targeting civilians. This is a conservative estimate, and the actual number of civilian casualties is likely much higher.
- The systematic targeting of energy infrastructure in autumn and winter led to a lesser impact on civilians’ physical security. Yet, debris from intercepted missiles and suicide drones still pose a risk of death and injury, in addition to the hardship inflicted due to power outages.
- Russia’s ongoing occupation of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and recurring threats to deploy nuclear weapons pose a continuous risk to life and the environment – not only in Ukraine, but also in the region at large.
The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is a major challenge for the international community. The needs are immense and more assistance is needed to help the people of Ukraine survive this crisis.