Ukraine

Ukraine: Humanitarian Impact Situation Report (As of 3:00 p.m. (EET) on 21 March 2022) [EN/RU/UK]

Attachments

This report is produced by OCHA Ukraine in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers the period from 3 p.m. (EET) 18 March to 3 p.m. (EET) 21 March. The next report will be published on or around 23 March.

KEY FIGURES (FLASH APPEAL 2022)

12M people in need
(Source: 2022 Flash Appeal)

6M people targeted
(Source: 2022 Flash Appeal)

$1.1B funding required (US$)
(Source: 2022 Flash Appeal)

38% funded
(Source: FTS)

HIGHLIGHTS

• Civilian casualties across Ukraine continue to rise. As of 20 March, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports 2,421 civilian casualties, including 925 killed, figures that are likely much higher. In less than a month, the confirmed civilian death toll has already reached the equivalent of 70 per cent of all confirmed civilian deaths over the last seven years of fighting in eastern Ukraine combined.

• On 19 March, an art school sheltering around 400 people was destroyed by bombing in Mariupol (Donetska oblast, east). This comes after last week’s bombing of the city’s Drama Theatre and Neptune sports centre – where more than 1,000 people had sought shelter amid ongoing hostilities. At the time of writing, the number of civilian casualties remains unclear.

• On 20 March, heavy shelling in the Podilskyi district of Kyiv (Kyivska oblast, north) reportedly left at least eight people dead and another injured. As clashes intensify in the capital and other areas of Kvivska oblast, a 35-hour curfew has been imposed across the oblast from 8:00 p.m. (EET) on 21 March to 7:00 a.m. on 23 March.

• Between 18 and 20 March, more than 13,000 people were evacuated from Mariupol. There are unconfirmed reports that people fleeing areas of the city allegedly controlled by the Russian Federation forces are being forced to evacuate towards non-Government-controlled areas (NGCA) and the Russian Federation with their Ukrainian passports confiscated. These alleged incidents of forced displacement would constitute a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions.

• Donetska oblast authorities (Government-controlled areas, GCA) say thousands who have fled the conflict-ravaged city of Mariupol now face starvation in Manhush and Melekine (Donetska oblast, NGCA), as they are once again trapped without safe passage out of locations where food and water are becoming increasingly scarce.

• As of 20 March, Donetska oblast authorities report damage to at least 10 health facilities, more than 320 educational facilities and nearly 1,110 residential buildings, among other critical civilian infrastructure damaged or destroyed.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Civilian causalities: Civilian casualties across Ukraine continue to rise. As of 20 March, OHCHR reports 2,421 civilian casualties, including 925 killed, figures that are likely much higher as limited humanitarian access prevents corroboration in the hardest-hit areas. In just 24 days, the confirmed civilian death toll has already reached the equivalent of around 70 per cent of all confirmed civilian deaths over the last seven years of fighting in eastern Ukraine combined – 1,320 civilians were killed between 2015 and 2021.

In Donetska and Luhanska oblasts, OHCHR reports 1,017 casualties (256 killed and 761 injured in GCA, and 55 killed and 190 injured in NGCA), and 1,404 civilian casualties in other parts of Ukraine. These figures do not reflect civilian casualties in the worst-affected cities in eastern Ukraine, including Mariupol and Volnovakha (Donetska oblast). In Mariupol alone, the number of civilian casualties has already reached 20,000 people – including more than 3,000 possibly killed – according to municipal authorities, although the actual figure remains unknown.

Overnight on 19-20 March, at least five civilians were killed, including a child, after attacks in Kharkiv (Kharkivska oblast, east). In neighboring Luhanska oblast, at least two dozen homes and apartment buildings were destroyed by attacks in Rubizhne and Sievierodonetsk that left at least three dead, including two children. Meanwhile, residential homes were allegedly shelled in the strategic southern port city Odesa (Odeska oblast, south-west) on 21 March. Local authorities have not reported any civilian casualties.

On 20 March, heavy shelling of a residential area in the Podilskyi district of Kyiv damaged four schools, six apartment buildings and destroyed a shopping mall, reportedly leaving at least eight people dead and another injured. As clashes intensify in the capital and other areas of Kyivska oblast, a 35-hour curfew has been imposed across the oblast from 8:00 p.m. (EET) on 21 March to 7:00 a.m. on 23 March.

Environmental hazards: Amid ongoing fighting, the potential for an environmental health catastrophe looms on the horizon. As of 21 March, the air pollution level in Kyiv remains categorized as unhealthy, with the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentration in the capital currently more than 12 times higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality guideline value. In a positive development, nearly half of the Chernobyl nuclear plant’s staff were able to rotate and return to their homes on 20 March after working non-stop for nearly a month after the Russian Federation troops allegedly occupied the plant on 24 February.

On 21 March, another potentially serious environmental health concern emerged when the Sumykhimprom chemical factory in Novoselytsia (Sumska oblast, north-east) – located just 6 km south-east of the city of Sumy – started leaking ammonia after being shelled, contaminating a roughly 2.5 km-zone around the facility. Oblast authorities advised residents near the factory to seek refuge in shelters and basements for protection, as local emergency services responded to the potentially dangerous incident, which they say does not pose a threat to the approximately 250,000 people living in nearby Sumy.

Displacement: To date, nearly 6.5 million people have been forcibly displaced within Ukraine, while almost 3.4 million have fled across international borders – more than 2 million of whom have sought refuge in Poland alone. People on the move are extremely vulnerable to a myriad of potential health and protection risks, while local capacities in host communities receiving growing numbers of displaced people are already stretched to the brink.

Forcibly displaced people urgently need basic shelter and protection. Amid harsh winter conditions and the growing risk of disease outbreaks, including a new wave of COVID-19, the establishment of camp-like settings for displaced people will likely create more challenges for affected people and the humanitarian response than it will create conditions for durable solutions to widescale displacement and needs. As such, UN agencies and humanitarian partners will roll out cash-for-rent assistance as part of the wider multi-purpose cash response strategy, providing affected people with the resources they need to find appropriate accommodations and avoid the mushrooming of displacement camps across the country.

More than 12 million people remain stranded within affected areas across Ukraine, unable to leave due to ongoing clashes, destruction of bridges and roads, and a lack of resources or information on where to find safety and appropriate accommodation. These people are among the most vulnerable in Ukraine, directly exposed to heightened insecurity and almost completely cut off from basic supplies, including food, water and medicine.

Eastern Ukraine: The humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine remains the biggest concern. More than 200,000 people are now without access to water across Donetska oblast, with new localities being affected each day. As the scope and scale of clashes in the oblast increase, there are growing concerns that all of Donetska oblast could be cut off from the water supply in the coming weeks, leaving millions of people without access to water. As of 20 March, Donetska oblast authorities report damage to at least 10 health facilities, more than 320 educational facilities, nearly 1,110 residential buildings, 15 heating and water facilities, 30 gas pipelines, 34 electricity facilities, 21 bridges and 18 railway facilities.

In neighboring Luhanska oblast, constant shelling has destroyed around 80 per cent of some localities, leaving nearly 100,000 users without electricity. Humanitarian needs in communities in and around the so-called contact line have grown exponentially compared to before the recent escalation, as fighting expands into new areas of Donetska and Luhanska oblasts, exacerbating underlying needs accumulated over eight years of armed conflict.

In Mariupol, despite slowly growing evacuations, hundreds of thousands of people have remained trapped inside the encircled city for several weeks, lacking access to the most basic necessities for survival. On 19 March, an art school sheltering around 400 people was destroyed by bombing. This comes after last week’s bombing of Mariupol’s Drama Theatre and Neptune sports centre – where more than 1,000 people had sought shelter amid ongoing hostilities. In both instances, although some survivors have been pulled from the rubble, the number of casualties remains unknown, as hundreds are likely still trapped beneath the rubble while active hostilities hinder search-and-rescue operations.

Evacuations: Between 18 and 20 March, the Government of Ukraine says more than 23,000 people were reportedly evacuated from the hardest-hit areas of the country, including more than 13,000 evacuated from Mariupol via Berdiansk en route to Zaporizhzhia (Zaporizka oblast, south-east). There are unconfirmed reports that people fleeing areas of Mariupol allegedly controlled by the Russian Federation forces are being forced to evacuate towards NGCA and the Russian Federation with their Ukrainian passports confiscated. On 19 March, local authorities reported that between 4,000 and 4,500 Mariupol residents were forcibly moved across the border into the south-west of the Russian Federation. According to the Ukrainian Ombudsperson, such incidents of forced displacement constitute a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Meanwhile, the Russian Federation reported that around 347,000 people have crossed the border from Ukraine towards the Russian Federation since the escalation of hostilities, including 16,054 people during the past 24 hours. This includes people who have reportedly been evacuated and those who have crossed the border seeking refuge on their own. The UN does not have means to verify the actual numbers of people evacuated.

As conditions grow increasingly desperate, there is a growing number of spontaneous evacuations out of Mariupol and other affected cities without any security guarantees for residents fleeing ongoing fighting. Even for those fortunate enough to escape Mariupol, Donetska oblast authorities say thousands who have fled the conflict-ravaged city of Mariupol now face starvation in Manhush and Melekine (Donetska oblast, NGCA), as they are once again trapped without safe passage out of localities where food and water are becoming increasingly scarce.

Disclaimer

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.