Ukraine: Humanitarian needs rise as conflict continues unnoticed

31 January, 2017
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Credit: UNHCR

As Ukraine enters its fourth year of a largely unnoticed conflict, millions of civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence. Of the 3.8 million people who need assistance, a staggering 70 per cent are elderly, women and children.

In December, the UN launched an appeal requesting US$214 million to reach 2.6 million people who desperately need assistance. To date, the appeal remains only 1 per cent funded. Last year’s appeal was only 32 per cent funded, leaving a gap of over $200 million.

Every day, fighting between parties to the conflict claims civilian lives. Damage to hospitals, schools, houses and vital infrastructure relentlessly continues, hampering recovery and the return to normalcy for millions of people.

Credit: NRC

Today, Neal Walker, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, expressed deep concern for the drastic deterioration of the security situation in eastern Ukraine. “An immediate cessation of hostilities is urgently needed to prevent further loss of lives, and to enable repair teams to urgently restore critical basic services to hundreds of thousands of affected civilians living in -10°C below-zero temperatures,” he said.

Due to the shelling, the Donetsk Filter Station stopped working on 30 January, leaving between 15,000 and 17,000 people in Avdiivka (Donetsk governorate) without water, and severely damaging the city’s heating system. During the winter, temperatures can drop below -20°C, which has life-threatening consequences for up to 400,000 people served by the facility.

The Government of Ukraine is doing its utmost to provide support, as is the humanitarian community, despite security and access-related challenges. In 2016, humanitarian organizations expanded their presence in the field and in Kyiv in order to reach internally displaced persons and the most-affected communities. The number of humanitarian organizations working across the country has risen from 147 in 2015 to 215 at the present time. But an ongoing conflict, an uncertain time frame for peace, and extraordinarily low funding will continue to result in unspeakable human suffering and loss of life.