In its sixth year, the situation in the conflict-affected Donetska and Luhanska oblasts in eastern Ukraine continues to take a significant toll on the lives of more than five million people, 3.4 million of whom require humanitarian assistance and protection services.
As the crisis in the conflict-affected Donetska and Luhanska oblasts is well into its sixth year, civilians continue to bear its heaviest brunt. Fear of shelling, violent clashes, or treading on one of the many landmines or explosive remnants of war (eastern Ukraine has been branded one of the world’s most mine-contaminated areas) are the daily reality for millions of people living on both sides of the over 420-km-long "contact-line", which is about the length of the French-German border. Since the start of the conflict, more than 3,340 civilian men, women and children have been killed and another 7,000 injured.
The long-term consequences of the conflict are serious with daily hostilities damaging critical infrastructure and often disrupting essential services, such as water supply and sanitation facilities. Every month, more than 1.1 million civilian crossings were recorded at the five crossing points in 2019, where people often have to endure long waiting hours in the bitter cold in winter and scorching heat in summer to maintain family links and access basic services. This is especially arduous for the elderly, who make up over 30 per cent of all people in need, the highest proportion in the world. People are increasingly affected by mental health issues having lived in fear for far too long, and lacking self-esteem after losing their job. The economic situation of the Donbas region, once the economic heartland of Ukraine, is dire which has seriously impacted household well-being and living standards.
Despite enormous challenges, the UN and its humanitarian partners continue to deliver lifesaving assistance to millions of people across the country. In 2019, more than 1 million people benefited from some form of humanitarian assistance and protection services. Since 2014, over US$500 million has been mobilized through humanitarian response plans.
The humanitarian response is coordinated within six clusters: Shelter and Non-Food Items; Protection; Health and Nutrition; Education; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Food Security and Livelihoods. Cluster partners conduct joint assessments, coordinate the response and monitor humanitarian assistance and programming. Relief and early recovery supplies, including food and non-food items, shelter materials, medicine, psycho-social support and hygienic and education kits are distributed. Access to safe drinking water through in-kind as well as cash assistance is provided. Other urgent humanitarian assistance includes provision of farming inputs, mine clearance and mine-risk education as well as other protection services.