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Ukraine: Four years of conflict leave 4.4M people in dire need of humanitarian assistance

28 Feb 2018
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The European Union, EU Member States, the European Parliament and International Organizations were today in Brussels briefed on the dire humanitarian situation faced by 4.4 million conflict-affected people in eastern Ukraine by the Ukraine Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, and the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine and other representatives.

The human toll of the armed conflict is appalling, with over 2,530 civilians killed and 9,000 injured. Thousands of homes, hundreds of hospitals, schools, and water and electricity facilities have been damaged due to the hostilities. The rapid and increased contamination of the conflict-affected area by mines and unexploded ordnances is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of Ukrainians. With one million crossings each month across the 457-km “contact line”, thousands of people face delays and obstacles in accessing basic services, pensions, social benefits, and markets every day.

"It is sobering to note that four years ago, Ukraine had no need of a humanitarian appeal", ASG Mueller said today at a conference on the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine. "Yet today, 3.4 million Ukrainians need humanitarian assistance for their protection and survival, particularly in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk."

“There are millions of women, men and children in eastern Ukraine who are struggling to make it through the fourth winter of conflict. Some 200,000 people live under constant fear of shelling every day. With the highest proportion of elderly affected in the world, it is our obligation to reverse the unacceptable deprivation that they face,” she added.

Source: 2018 HRP

Disrupted access to critical facilities and diminished livelihoods mean that some 3.4 million people are without basic supplies and services and need assistance for protection and survival. "Four years of conflict have put a tremendous strain on the civilian population in eastern Ukraine,” said the European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. "We cannot overlook that there's a humanitarian crisis at the European Union's doorstep. Supporting all those in need, wherever they are, is a priority for the EU. Our new aid package will provide essential assistance such as food, healthcare and education for children."

Some 1.6 million Ukrainians have been displaced across the country. Many families cannot return home due to hostilities or lost livelihoods. They also struggle to access for example housing and employment in host communities. Ukraine Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons, Vadym Chernysh, expressed in Brussels the Ukraine Government’s appreciation of and support to the ongoing humanitarian activities to assist affected and displaced people. “We are thankful to our friends – international and donor organizations, who continue to support the Government at this difficult time to address the needs of millions of Ukrainians affected and displaced,” said Mr. Chernysh.

At today's conference, ASG Mueller stressed the resilience and strength of people in eastern Ukraine, but also their uncertainty over what the future holds. "When I met with displaced family members (...) I was struck by their resilience and stoicism, but I was also disturbed to see they were beginning to lose hope. They felt the world was no longer interested in their plight. Many expressed concerns for their future. Would the shelling ever stop so they could return to their homes? (...) Unfortunately, this is the reality for the majority of the 1.6 million Ukrainians, who are now displaced across the country."

Last December, humanitarians in Ukraine consolidated a comprehensive and prioritized US$187 million Humanitarian Response Plan that sets out the urgent need to reach 2.3 million vulnerable Ukrainians with assistance and protection throughout 2018. The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Neal Walker, stressed that “in 2017, we provided aid to 1.1 million of the most vulnerable Ukrainians. We wanted to do much more. Today, I commend EU Member States for their support, but I urge immediate bolstering of solidarity by supporting our collective efforts in helping the people of Ukraine in the very continent we share”.