Ukraine, the largest country entirely within Europe, is a republic that gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. After a difficult transition period to market economy, the country still remains one of the poorest in Europe. Due to the political, economic, and social situation, the main humanitarian challenges in Ukraine are related to poverty, health and disasters. Around a quarter of the population live below the poverty line and lack adequate health and social care. The most vulnerable people are elderly residents living alone, multi-child families, street children, people with disabilities, and marginalized people such as migrants, homeless people, people living with HIV, alcoholics and drug users. The increase in TB incidence and the most severe HIV epidemic in Europe add to the challenges for the society and the government, and as these diseases prey on the poorest and most vulnerable, both diseases are spreading. Ukraine is also prone to natural and man-made disasters such as frequent flooding, harsh winters, storms, road accidents, mine explosions and the legacy of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Massive protest actions started at the end of November 2013 in the Ukrainian capital and other big cities, supporting the initiative to conclude a trade agreement with the EU, demanding the resignation of the President and a few members of the government, as well as calling for new parliamentary elections. From 1 December the riot police was using force in different parts of Kiev against the demonstrators who occupied the city`s main square and several adjoining public buildings. Hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied in Kiev with incidents of localised violence registered in late November and December.