Summary of Context
After eight years of armed conflict, the resulting humanitarian crisis in Ukraine has become protracted and has faded from global headlines. The ceasefire brokered in July 2020 has become increasingly fragile, resulting in the number of civilian casualties returning to pre-ceasefire levels and civilian infrastructure frequently coming under fire. Ukraine remains one of the world’s most landmine- and unexploded ordnance-contaminated countries, putting people’s lives at risk and impeding recovery, and limiting access to livelihoods and basic services. With no political solution to the conflict in sight, humanitarian needs are anticipated to continue with increased severity in 2022, particularly in the non-Government-controlled areas (NGCA).
Conflict, COVID-19 and movement restrictions are interlinked drivers of humanitarian needs in the conflict-affected areas of Donetska and Luhanska oblasts. Humanitarian needs arising from the armed conflict remain critical on both sides of the “contact line”, the 427-km frontline which divides Donetska and Luhanska oblasts into areas under Government control (GCA) and those outside it (NGCA). The COVID-19 pandemic has led to restrictions on movement, primarily applied in NGCA, and decreasing livelihood opportunities, and has pushed fragile and weakened health systems to a breaking point.
With the “contact line” substantially closed since March 2020, the NGCA population struggles to access basic services, social benefits and entitlements, for which they need to cross to GCA. Among the most affected are older persons living in NGCA, particularly women, as the effective closure greatly restricts their access to their pensions in GCA. Thirty percent of people in need of humanitarian assistance are older than 60 years of age. This is the largest percentage of older persons affected by conflict in a single country. The effective closure also widens the rift between divided populations, severing previously interdependent networks of essential services and markets. With Ukraine’s harsh winter season and already three waves of COVID-19 (with additional waves likely following the emergence of the Omicron variant), the operational environment has become increasingly complex, especially in NGCA. Access remains seriously constrained, undermining the provision of principled humanitarian assistance, while the humanitarian crisis continues to be at risk of further politicization.
Scope of Analysis
This Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) focuses on the humanitarian needs of people living in the conflict-affected Donetska and Luhanska oblasts and of those people displaced by the conflict to other oblasts across Ukraine. As the geographic location matters significantly in the Ukrainian context, the analysis of humanitarian needs differentiates between GCA and NGCA, as well as urban and rural areas where feasible.
For the 2022 HNO, the analytical methodology has been improved to align with administrative boundaries, where applicable. Humanitarian access and assessments remain severely limited in NGCA, which impacts the depth of analysis.
Please refer to section 1.3 for further information
The consequences of the humanitarian crisis on people are examined along three dimensions, as per the Joint Intersectoral Analysis Framework (JIAF):
• Physical and Mental well-being: this dimension analyses critical information and indicators regarding the physical and mental well-being of the population. It examines the impact of mines/ unexploded ordnance, conflict-related damage to housing and civilian infrastructure, including schools and water infrastructure, and indicators pertaining to water, hygiene and sanitation, COVID-19, and food consumption.
• Living Standards: this dimension analyses the affected population’s ability to meet their basic needs. This is measured using indicators of population’s access to essential goods and services, ranging from education, health care, social benefits, pensions, household expenditure shares to housing and heating, as well as social protection and civil documentation including birth certificates.
• Coping Mechanisms: this dimension analyses to what extent individuals, households, communities and systems are coping with or facing challenges. In Ukraine, the ability to cope is gauged by such coping strategies as reductions in health care and savings expenditures.
People in need / Severity of needs
With conflict, COVID-19 and its related movement restrictions driving humanitarian needs, some 2.9 million people are projected to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2022, the majority of whom, some 54 per cent, are women and girls. The majority (59 per cent) of the people in need live in NGCA, where needs remain severe and continue to deteriorate. The NGCA population has been most impacted by the limitations on movement across the “contact line” due to restrictions imposed primarily in NGCA. In order to obtain entitlements, reach services or maintain family connections, an increasing number of people have been crossing to GCA through a cumbersome and expensive detour through the Russian Federation.
The severity of needs is lower in GCA, particularly in the areas farther away from active conflict and the “contact line”, with lower severity attributable to the support provided by the Government of Ukraine, civil society and development actors. The most severe humanitarian needs in GCA remain in areas close to the “contact line”, where active hostilities continue.
Of the 2.9 million people projected to be in need, 1.1 million people live in GCA of Donetska and Luhanska oblasts, including over 133,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), and 160,000 IDPs in other oblasts across Ukraine.4 Over 1.6 million people in need live in NGCA.
The impact of the conflict on people depends on numerous factors, such as location, exposure to hostilities, socio-economic status, gender and age as well as type of pre-existing vulnerabilities, with the older population, persons with disabilities, female headed households and children among those most in need of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine.
Please refer to section 1.2 for an analysis on different population groups, including IDPs, and to section 1.4 for an in-depth analysis per GCA/NGCA.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.