Ukraine –Civilians struggle to live as war goes on

News and Press Release
Originally published

In Eastern Ukraine, we enter the 3rd year of the conflict that shows no sign of abating. It has already left 22,000 people wounded and 10,000 killed, and humanitarian needs persist for 3,8 millions of people. Action contre la Faim (ACF) is providing humanitarian assistance since 2015. Access to essential services for the most vulnerable remains a serious issue, and humanitarian space continues to shrink, mainly due to political blockages of warring parties. Efforts of impartial humanitarian actors to provide aid and support to find more sustainable solutions for acceptable conditions of life and dignity faces increasing challenges, in a highly politicized conflict.

In order to cope with the situation, gain access to some services or job opportunities, as well as to maintain family links, an estimated 700 000 people cross the front line monthly in long queues, now in harsh winter time with temperature reaching -20°C. Water shortages are a daily reality, and humanitarian community estimates 3,7 million could require some assistance. Families face difficulties accessing quality essential health care as qualified medical staff is missing, and medicines shortages regular in the non-government controlled area. The population affected is in majority composed by elderlies, people with disabilities, chronic illness. In villages along the front line, children continues to experience regular shelling and intense fighting since 2,5 years. The impact on the mental health conditions of an entire population is a disaster. More than 2 million people are in need of health assistance.

Human rights are violated on both side, and freedom of movements, expression or access to the essential administrative services impeded by political and security decisions from Authorities.

“When you go visit villages located along the front line, you meet elderly people, vulnerable families, stuck in between military fights. They survive here, living to the rythm of war. They tell you that one of their worst fears is to be forgotten by authorities, but also by the international community. 800 000 people still lives all along the front line!” says Antoine TERRIEN, in charge of humanitarian advocacy in Ukraine for ACF.

International Humanitarian Law must be respected to meet population essential needs In Ukraine like in other conflicts, political and military interests once again take precedence over the situation of civilians.

Since July 2015, de facto authorities in non-government controlled areas have refused the access for almost all humanitarian organizations, leaving a serious gap in the assistance for the affected populations. Despite of continuous offers to deliver tailored humanitarian aid to those in needs, refusal and even further imposed recent restrictions have led to a worrying situation. In addition, the Ukrainian government has implemented several measures that continue to negatively impact the civilian population living in the Eastern Ukraine. Some of the sanctions prevent trades in the conflict affected areas, including on food or medicines.

Action contre la Faim calls for decision makers to guarantee respect of International Humanitarian Law.

We ask to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access of organizations who offers to assist civilians, and remind strongly authorities on their obligation to meet the essential needs of the population under their control.