In September, overall trend of decreasing conflict-related civilian casualties, observed since June 2017, continued following a peak in May. OHCHR verifies that despite ongoing hostilities, number of civilian casualties recorded in September with 2 deaths and 16 injuries is the lowest since start of the conflict, representing a 56 per cent decrease compared to August 2017, or 18 per cent decrease compared to September 2016. However, it is difficult to conclude if the reinforced “safe harvest” and “school” ceasefire efforts last summer were the main drivers for such decrease. Despite the positive development, as October approached, hostilities near the critical civilian infrastructure picked up. At least three cases of shelling near the 1st Lift Pumping Station of the South Donbas Water Pipelines were recorded within 48 hours in the first week of the month. While the Station continued to operate, the staff had to seek safety in bomb shelters. This clearly shows that risk of disruption of water supply for some 1.2 million on both sides of the ‘contact line’ remains high. With cold temperatures on the rise, and launch of heating systems nears, damage to water and electricity supply infrastructure will have knock-on effect, increasing the risks for critical heating systems breaking up – a scenario that could trigger displacement and additional humanitarian needs.
As the consolidation of 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) process continues, various partners concluded their sectorial and inter-agency assessments, indicating continuous disproportionate impact of the conflict across different sectors. The school season kicked off on 1 September. However, access to education remains a major challenge. According to the Education Cluster, since the start of 2017, some 32 educational facilities have been either damaged or destroyed on both sides of the ‘contact line’ while some 22 more remain temporarily closed. This has affected at least 5,800 schoolchildren, who in most cases take extra distances to access education in nearby villages. On similar note, socio-economic conditions of millions of Ukrainians deteriorated. The Food Security and Livelihoods Cluster (FSLC) recent analysis indicates that over 1.2 million people are either severely of moderately food insecure in the two conflict-affected provinces. Of these, over 800,000 people live in non-Government controlled areas (NGCA). Initial results of the Area Based Assessment (ABA) on the conditions of communities living within 5km along the ‘contact line’ in the Government controlled areas indicates systematic basic service disruptions due to disconnection with NGCA cities and markets. Security concerns, disruption to basic services and lack of employment opportunities are likely to continue affecting these communities.
The nature and disproportionate impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the most vulnerable communities differ from other conflicts, largely owing to harsh winter conditions. In winter months, when temperatures drop as low as -20 C degrees, needs across all sectors are expected to rise. While partners continue stretching resources to meet the growing needs, severe underfunding of the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) puts at risk critical winterization projects. As of 17 October, of the requested US$204 million, only 26 per cent has been funded. If no immediate funding is available, life-saving food and shelter, or health and WASH assistance may be significantly decreased, ultimately affecting those who need assistance the most. Humanitarian partners rely on generosity of donors to make funding available to be able to carry out these critical projects timely and ahead of the winter months to minimize suffering of millions, who are dependent on aid.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.