After eight years of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine which had left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance, the Russian Federation launched a military offensive on the country on 24 February2022. The war, and the intensity and nature of the fighting with indiscriminate strikes damaging or destroying civilian as well as private and communal infrastructure,have caused fear andthetragic loss of human life. It has triggered one of the fastest-growing displacement and humanitarian crises on record, pushing millions into internal displacement and abroad in search of safety. Some 5,381civilian casualties have been recorded in Ukraine –2,435killed and 2,946injured –however the actual figures may be considerably higher.
More than a quarter of Ukraine’s population has been forced to flee since 24 February: over 5.1million refugees –90 per cent of whom are women and children –have fled to neighbouring countries,2with many immediately continuing their journey to other countries. An additional 7.7million people are internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside Ukraine (60per cent women and 40per cent men)3and another 13 million people have been directly affected in the hardest-hit areasacross the country. Moreover, many people remain trapped in areas of escalating hostilities and are facing critical and potentially fatal shortages of food, water, medicine and emergency health care, with some areas such as Mariupol on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.4Food is one of the top three concerns of affected people, with humanitarian partners estimating that around 45 per cent of people are worried about not getting enough.
The war is also exacerbating human suffering in eastern Ukraine –an area which has already experiencedeight years of armed conflict, community isolation, deteriorating infrastructure, extensive landmine and unexploded ordnance-contamination, and more recently the impact of COVID-19. At the same time, the situation in the most affected areas of northern and southern Ukraine is becoming increasingly dire as active hostilities intensify in existing hotspots and expand into new areas,6where older persons, persons with disabilities, children –including children living in boarding schools, institutions or other alternative care arrangements –minorities, women, and female-headed households are among the most vulnerable groups affected.
Population movements into neighbouring countries in the first month of the war have made this situation the fastestgrowing refugee emergency since World War II, and movements continue to be unpredictable. Governments in all countries neighbouring Ukraine have generously kept their borders open and local communities have welcomed refugees, other people of concern and third-country nationals, and continue to provide this support without discrimination. In addition to UN Agencies and NGOs, local responders including civil society organizations, faith-based institutions, refugee-and women-led organizations, academia, sport associations and the private sector, as well as private citizens, have played an important role in supporting and complementing state initiatives and efforts, at border reception points and in main urban centres. With the influx, local and national authorities have established reception facilities at border crossing points to receive new arrivals and are providing life-saving assistance, including accommodation, food, and other basic needs, as well as onward transport for those seeking to reach urban centres. At these centres information is provided on the asylum process and temporary protection, as well as on the risks of trafficking.Access to basic rights and services, such as health, has been facilitated. Steps have been taken to foster protection and inclusion into national systems, such as for health and educationservices. Referral services are being scaled up, focusing especially on case management and protection of unaccompanied children and those evacuated from boarding schools, institutions and other alternative care arrangements, survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), victims of trafficking, persons with disabilities andother vulnerable groups.
Significantly, on 4 March, European Union (EU) Member States activated the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) for the first time.8The TPD stipulates that all Member States must grant temporary protection (TP) to Ukrainians and persons with protection status in Ukraine and their family members residing in Ukraine before 24 February. In addition, EU Member States will granteitherTP or a National Equivalent tothird-country nationalsor stateless personswith permanent residence status in Ukrainewho werein Ukraine prior to 24 February andwho are unable to return home. Many EU Member States have already shown great support, and RRP partners are encouraged that this show of solidarity will continue. The humanitarian response is in support of Member States’ efforts, with the refugee hosting countriesin the lead. With the tremendous support being provided by hosting countries, national reception capacities and services are increasingly coming under strain, raising concerns over future provision of basic needs. These countries themselves may also soon face a range of social and economic impacts due to the war in Ukraine making access to areas such as education and socioeconomic inclusion in the longer-term crucial areas of focus, which is why, in the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), including the principle of responsibility-sharing, the international community must step up its support to host countries. Meanwhile, humanitarian partners continue to strengthen the coordinated response, though the ability to ramp up inter-agency interventions is greatly dependent on the availability, and timely delivery of the resource requirements outlined in this plan.