Direct impact of hostilities
Lack of livelihoods and erosion of coping mechanisms
Curtailed freedom of movement and restricted access
OVERVIEW OF THE CRISIS
For almost five years, millions of people have suffered the complex humanitarian consequences of the active armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Despite numerous ceasefire agreements, civilians are regularly exposed to active hostilities, particularly along the 427-kilometre ‘contact line’ that divides the affected areas. Periodic lulls in hostilities provide little relief as civilians continue to face risks of dangerous landmines and explosives, whether on their way to market, school, home, hospital or crossing the ‘contact line’. Over 3,000 civilians have been killed and approximately 9,000 injured since the beginning of the conflict. The hostilities have also damaged and destroyed homes, hospitals, schools, roads, water supply systems and other civilian infrastructure, disrupting or cutting off people’s access to these critical services. With more than a million crossings each month and only five checkpoints with long lines and limited services, crossing the ‘contact line’ puts enormous challenges for civilians trying to maintain family ties and to meet their basic needs. The protracted nature of the crisis has also diminished the livelihoods of conflict-affected Ukrainians. Lack of or no income has stretched people’s resources to a breaking point, with families having to resort to negative practices like selling their vital belongings or reducing costly but necessary expenditures, such as medication.
Mental health and psychosocial disorders are a growing concern that requires urgent action for millions of people, with children and the elderly most in need. The humanitarian needs in eastern Ukraine are therefore manifold and severe, with 3.5 million men, women and children being dependent on humanitarian assistance and protection services. Even if hostilities wane and landmines have been cleared, communities will need extensive support to regain their self-sufficiency Devastating consequences of the violence Eastern Ukraine remains one of the deadliest regions in the world, especially for the two million people who reside close to the ‘contact line’ on both sides. As International Humanitarian Law is repeatedly violated, efforts to protect civilians often fall short. Civilians who live, work and attend school in these areas must contend with landmines and other explosives on a regular basis. Ongoing hostilities and landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) accounted for 270 deaths and injuries in 2018.1 More than 3,000 civilians have been killed and another 9,000 injured since the conflict began in 2014. Life for the men, women and children living in conflict-affected settlements is hard, and psychological trauma is deep and increasingly widespread. Healing will take time.
Shelling and small-arms fire regularly damage thousands of homes and critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, roads, and water supply systems. In 2018 alone, water supply systems were disrupted 89 times by hostilities, landmines and other issues, affecting millions of people. Schools and hospitals continue to be caught up in indiscriminate shelling.
Whilst it is difficult to determine the exact number of missing persons, it is estimated that at least 1,500 people remain unaccounted for as a result of the conflict. Over 80 per cent of them used to be employed and the majority of them were breadwinners.4 In August 2018, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a new law on the “legal status of missing people”, which grants a person the missing “status” from the day they are reported and creates a Commission on Persons Missing in Special Circumstances and the Unified Register of Missing Persons.
Freedom of movement restrictions shatter people’s dignity Millions of people in eastern Ukraine face severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. The ‘contact line’ spans some 427 kilometres and has only five official crossing points throughout the entire region. One of these is a pedestrian-only wooden bridge that serves the entire Luhanska oblast. Civilians who need to cross the ‘contact line’ to access pensions, hospitals, markets, social services, or simply visit friends or family often wait in long lines for several hours at checkpoints, and sometimes stay overnight, in a highly volatile environment with shelling and extreme levels of landmine contamination.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.