Ukraine

Crisis in Ukraine Could Spiral Into Widespread Humanitarian Catastrophe

Conflict in Ukraine could lead to hundreds of thousands of people being displaced and widespread medical needs nationwide; Project HOPE responds to urgent needs

Washington, DC (February 24, 2022) — As conflict intensifies inside Ukraine, Project HOPE is mobilizing a response with partners to address urgent health care needs for people most impacted by the crisis. With some 3 million people in Ukraine already in need of urgent humanitarian assistance even before the Russian military incursion, immediate medical support is needed to prevent the country from spiraling even deeper into a humanitarian crisis that could impact millions of people.

Chris Skopec, Executive Vice President of Global Health for Project HOPE, said:

"The conflict in Ukraine is a devastating blow for millions of Ukrainians who have already been living in a humanitarian crisis even before the first bombs fell. At this point, there is no way to ease the suffering that is to come unless there is a total stop to the conflict. Short of that, millions of people may suffer as the country spirals into a humanitarian crisis that impacts Ukraine's most vulnerable people.

"Civilians have already been killed, just hours into this conflict. At least one hospital has already been hit. Long lines of people are trying to flee major cities. These numbers will get exponentially worse and add to the more than 850,000 internally displaced people already struggling to survive in Ukraine," Skopec added.

With medical needs anticipated to be high as the conflict grows, Project HOPE is currently working with the World Health Organization to mobilize an initial shipment of medical supplies into Ukraine. Ukraine already faces major health challenges, including high rates of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, which will be worsened by any prolonged conflict as people are forced to go without regular medicine or care.

The conflict will also undoubtedly lead to widespread mental and psychosocial health challenges, especially in communities that have previously experienced years of conflict.

"As we have seen time and time again, the human costs of war do not respect borders. This war will lead to devastation inside Ukraine, but it may also touch off a regional crisis across Europe as waves of refugees flee home to seek safety," Skopec added. "We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and a refugee crisis would add further stress to health systems that are already struggling or overwhelmed.

"Ukrainians have lived too long in the shadow of war. Innocent women, children, and men will suffer needlessly because of a conflict they did not ask for or deserve. We join the global community in calling for an immediate end to all fighting so that Ukrainians can return home and live in peace without fear. Until then, Project HOPE stands ready to support the Ukrainian people, both in Ukraine and in surrounding countries, with health and humanitarian aid," Skopec said.

Interviews available upon request.

How Project HOPE is Responding

  • Project HOPE has an initial shipment of medical supplies on standby in The Netherlands and is working with the World Health Organization to mobilize them into Ukraine.
  • The focus will be on health needs such as sending critical medical supplies and mental health support focusing on the most vulnerable populations such as children, elderly, and internally displaced people (IDPs).
  • Project HOPE is in contact with European partners to respond to most critical needs in the region.
  • Project HOPE has been working in Ukraine since 2002, when we introduced the Useful Habits program. This life-skills program focused on drug use prevention, HIV prevention, and education for children in primary schools. In 2007, Project HOPE began collaborating with the Futures Group on a five-year, USAID-funded HIV/AIDS Service Capacity project in Ukraine. Our activities were focused on community mobilization for the most at-risk populations in Ukraine.
  • Project HOPE has a deep history of responding to humanitarian crises around the world, including Venezuela, Ethiopia, and Ukraine.

Facts & Figures

  • Ukraine is one of the world's most long-standing humanitarian crises due to ongoing conflict that began in 2014.
  • Fighting in Ukraine has been Europe's deadliest conflict over the last two decades. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed or injured and 1.4 million people have been internally displaced. More than 3 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance before this latest crisis.
  • Ukraine has the highest percentage of vulnerable people affected by the existing humanitarian crisis. Elderly and persons with disabilities account for more than 30% of the people living in conflict-affected Ukraine, according to the UN.
  • Pre-existing conflict has created access issues for clean water, mental health issues related to conflict and displacement, and lack of access to education.
  • The current conflict will create additional and renewed crisis for millions of people who will be potentially displaced and in need of health services.

Contact: Cinira Baldi, Vice President, Chief Development & Communications Officer, Project HOPE, CBaldi@ProjectHOPE.org, +1 (202) 753-6551 (office), +1 (303) 437-7738 (mobile)