Humanitarian Bulletin: Ukraine | Issue 16 | 1 January - 28 February 2017 [EN/RU/UK]



  • A spike of hostilities increased humanitarian needs.

  • Government approves the Action Plan on reintegration of NGCA.

  • Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) remains severely underfunded.

  • Life-saving water facilities are at risk of breaking down.

Heightened humanitarian needs in the east

Insecurity peaked up again in late January across eastern Ukraine, generating additional civilian casualties and humanitarian needs in several locations. Since the beginning of the year, OHCHR verified 111 civilian casualties (20 deaths and 91 injuries), compared to 51 in November-December 2016. Most casualties were caused by shelling from artillery, tanks and MLRS.1 Damage to houses and vital infrastructure, including electricity, water (with knock on effect on the heating system), as well as schools and health facilities, was also widespread. These events further added to the suffering of already vulnerable people whose resources and resilience have been depleted by the protracted crisis.
Insecurity peaked in late January, and, after a brief period of relatively lessened conflict during the second week of February, renewed clashes flared up on 16-18 February in Avdiivka–Yasynuvata area, with nearly all other major hotspots also witnessing a sharp increase of violence. In Donetska oblast, the majority of the incidents occurred in the southern part of the ‘contact line,’ east and northeast of Mariupol, in particular, in three biggest hotspots around Pikuzy/Kominternove, Shyrokyne and Pavlopil. Most of the recorded conflict activity in Luhanska oblast remained in the southern parts of Popasnianskyi raion: Novozvanivka (GCA), Novooleksandrivka (area near the ‘contact line’), Troitske (GCA), Kalynove (NGCA) and Kalynove-Borshchuvate (NGCA).

Life-saving water provision is critically affected

According to the water utility company Voda Donbasa, in February alone, over 880,000 people in the conflict-affected area of eastern Ukraine (860,000 in NGCA) experienced water shortages for at least 24 hours. In addition, many more experienced water cuts for several hours. WASH Cluster estimates that, at present, some 2.9 million people are at risk of water shortages, as disruptions continue to be recorded and repair teams’ work is hampered by continuous insecurity.
The WASH Cluster produced some 24 alerts since the beginning of the year and provided vital information to inform advocacy and response. Repeated damage to critical interdependent infrastructure, in particular Avdiivka coke plant and Donetsk Filter Station (DFS), which provides water to more than 345,000 people, set off a domino effect of water, electricity and subsequent heating cuts in both GCA and NGCA, amidst freezing temperatures. In Avdiivka and surrounding villages, some 16,000 people were left without power, water and heating supply on 30-31 January. Up to 800,000 people in parts of Donetsk city had no access to water for 24 hours on 1 February. Almost 500,000 people in Mariupol lost access to sustainable water supply and have to rely on Starokrymska backup reservoir, which will eventually run out of water. Shelling around Horlivka, with a population of 190,000, damaged electricity infrastructure on multiple occasions. Undeterred by repeated shelling, repair teams restored electricity, water and heating supply to all affected people by the second week of February. However, in the absence of substantial ‘windows of silence’, contingency measures which could ensure the operation of the infrastructure in case of future power cuts were limited.

On 18 and 24 February, as a result of intensified fighting, DFS lost power, interrupting water supply to parts of Donetsk city and Yasynuvata, and completely shutting supply to Verhnetoretske, Vasylivka and Spartak. Left without sustainable supply of clean water,
Avdiivka had to use a local water reservoir with a 3-day capacity, and water supply had to be limited as a contingency measure. Continued shelling stalled repair attempts for a couple of days, but the damaged power lines were eventually restored. Additional incidents triggered evacuation of staff and suspension of operations in several instances.
WASH partners warn that the South Donbas water pipeline, which serves over 1 million people, damaged in late January, has not been repaired yet. The system serves large cities, including Mariupol, and several pumping stations. This continues to create severe risks of water shortages, which could have a knock-on effect on other systems, as well as increase health related outbreaks on both sides of the ‘contact line’. The Horlivka Filter Station, which supplies water to 300,000 people, may be affected if fighting does not stop.
More critical water infrastructure sustained damage on 28 February. The 1st lift pumping station of South Donbas Water pipeline (Donetsk NGCA) was shelled in the evening of 28 February. The pumping station remained operational although staff was evacuated. The station provides raw water to five filter stations, supplying water to more than 1 million people living south of Donetsk who are at risk. Additionally, as a result of shelling in Luhanska oblast, a power line Mykhailivka (NGCA)-Lysychansk (GCA) and Water Pumping Station in Carbonit were damaged. The reserve power lines were activated to avoid problems with water supply.


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