General Overview of the Humanitarian Situation in Ukraine

Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine caused a rapid increase in humanitarian needs and a humanitarian crisis, the consequences of which are devastating for Ukraine’s population. The humanitarian situation in Ukraine continues to exacerbate, reaching catastrophic proportions in some cities. The supply of basic necessities to a significant portion of the country’s territory was suspended while the civilian population was forced to flee the warzone. The territorial scale of the conflict is substantial; the aggressor engages indiscriminate shelling and deliberate destruction of humanitarian infrastructure. Further expansion of the conflict will aggravate the humanitarian challenges millions of Ukrainians face. The full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation changed the type and the nature of humanitarian activity needed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, mainly due to the increased scope of warfare. As of now, the growing threat to security is affecting Kyiv, a large area of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as other “newly affected’ regions, including, most prominently, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Sumy and Zhytomyr regions. A number of potential factors exacerbate the acuteness of humanitarian needs, in particular:

  • Logistical constraints caused by a disruption of previously well-functioning supply chains, such as closed seaports, the absence of air travel, and the risks accompanying the shipment by road transportation, forced companies with once well-established logistics to re-orient their activities;
  • Limited humanitarian access to areas with active fighting, including the provision of safe access for international humanitarian organizations;
  • Numerous environmental risks (shelling or fires may lead to emission of hazardous materials, toxic smoke, and chemical components);
  • Risks associated with mines and unexploded ordnance;
  • The climate, including harsh winter conditions;

Humanitarian aid needs are proliferating, especially in the regions with active warfare. Currently, more than 12.8 million people on the territory of Ukraine need help and protection, including 6-7 million internally displaced people. Providing safe access to areas where hostilities continue remains the central issue, including that for international humanitarian organizations.

The elderly and people with disabilities who cannot leave dangerous areas or have to remain in affected regions, as well as women and children, are among the most vulnerable groups during an armed conflict. The ongoing martial law forbids men between the ages of 18 to 16 from leaving the country, making family separation a significant challenge. In addition, women and girls face an increased risk of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, tied to the conflict. Rape, forced marriages, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking in any territory where active warfare continues become characteristic.

According to the data provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the number of civilian deaths from the 24th of February as of June exceeded the number of deaths for the past eight years. Since the start of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, 8,533 victims have been recorded among the civilian population: 3,924 of which were killed and 4,591 wounded. However, the real numbers are likely to be much higher. Most recorded civilian casualties were caused by explosives with a wide impact area, including heavy and rocket artillery, as well as missile and air strikes. Calculations show that since the start of the military aggression in Ukraine, 533 educational institutions, 300 kindergartens, 196 medical facilities, 129 factories and enterprises, and 6,800 residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed. The total area of damaged or destroyed residential property is about 26 million square meters. The total amount of direct documented losses exceeds 94.3 billion USD or 2.7 trillion UAH, and the figure is growing with every day of the war. Direct losses to the Ukrainian economy, mainly due to the destruction and damage to civilian and military infrastructure, increased by almost 4.5 billion USD.

Attacks on medical facilities in Ukraine that lead to death and injury of the most vulnerable groups of patients, women, and children in particular, as well as medical personnel, destroy the vital healthcare infrastructure and force a large number of people to withdraw from medical help, despite the urgent need for it. Assault on healthcare facilities and healthcare workers affects people’s ability to access essential healthcare services, especially crucial for vulnerable groups.

The provision of basic administrative and state public services has significantly deteriorated. The ability of local authorities to maintain a minimum level of services is largely limited as many workers flee or cannot access their workplace. Even when the population does not suffer from the war directly, it faces a decrease in the number of services offered, interruptions, or complete termination of their provision.

Interruptions and termination of the provision of essential services lead to multisectoral needs. Water supply, waste disposal, environmental protection, transport infrastructure, telecommunications, health care, emergency services, education, electricity, and access to justice are deteriorating in cities where the conflict is ongoing. The situation is complicated by disruptions in the functioning of the market and the banking system. Although the society has had experience in self-organization and effective grouping, the need for humanitarian aid in Ukraine will remain substantial for many years to come. This will apply not only to the regions directly affected by the war but also to those that currently host or will host internally displaced persons.

Priority response measures should include:

  • Regular monitoring and inspection of events, needs, and response measures;
  • Regular reporting on achieved results in creating a better informational basis for decision-making processes.
  • Development and release of information products, ensuring the collection and use of data categorized by gender and age to provide a higher quality analysis that considers a range of gender aspects and actions.
  • Supporting the timely allocation and disbursement of resources provided by donors to the most crucial humanitarian needs and ensuring regular monitoring of funding,
  • Raise awareness and strengthen support for the humanitarian community in order to expand operational capacity and ensure unhindered humanitarian access.

Read the entire analytical note in Ukrainian in pdf

Olga Pyshchulina

Leading Expert, Social and Gender Programmes

Born in 1966 in Kharkiv


School of Economics at the Kharkiv State (National) University (Kharkiv, Ukraine) (1989)

Summer Course on Human Rights, School of Human Rights Research, Faculty of Law, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (2001)

PhD in sociology (Candidate of Social Science) (1997), Honorable Economics of Ukraine (2012). I am an author more than 90 publishing and a Civil Servant of 3rd rank

Research Interests:

Structural deformation of the economic and social policy; Main problems with the national models of social policy implementation; The issue of income polarization; Ineffectiveness of state transfer policy; Failure of pension reform in Ukraine; Social protection programmers in Ukraine; Regulations of labour market; Gender issues

Experience as a civil servant in the Government’s employ:

Civil Servant of 3d rank. Total experience 12 years. The Head of Social Policy Department (since 2010), Principal Consultant of the Civil Society and Social Relationships Department (since 2003) National Institute for Strategic Studies

Experience as a Research Fellow:

Senior Researcher (1995–2001) , Researcher (1989–1995) School of Sociology, Karazin Kharkiv National University, School of Sociology (1997–2003)

Teaching Experience:

Associate Professor, School of Sociology, Karazin Kharkiv National University, School of Sociology (1997–2003)

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