12 Months into the Full-Scale Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Unimaginable Suffering Continues

Published: Feb 22, 2023 Reading time: 7 minutes
Izjum, Charkovská oblast. Pomoc při mimořádných událostech bezprostředně po deokupaci.
Izium, Kharkiv oblast. Emergency assistance right after de-occupation.
© Foto: Alyona Budagovska

It's been one year since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate following the escalation of eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine. For people in Ukraine, the war means, amongst other things:

12 months of loss and destruction

12 months of injury and death

12 months of broken families and displacement

12 months of limited food, water, medical care, heating, and electricity

12 months of demolished homes and cities

12 months of air attacks, sirens, and hiding in makeshift shelters

12 months of immense psychological trauma, particularly for children

12 months of disrupted livelihoods and a lack of a steady income

But also, 12 months of incredible solidarity and resilience

"From here, it's about 15 kilometres to the front line at Avdiivka. We've been bombed, had people wounded and seen death," says Tetiana Poliakova from Zoria village in eastern Ukraine. "We, pensioners, live here without gas, without water. We live on humanitarian aid because there's only one store, and it's far away," adds Kateryna Ulianivna from a village where fighting is a daily reality for its 339 residents.

This is just one story from just one village in a country where currently 17.7 million people—equivalent to the entire population of the Netherlands—require humanitarian aid. "The end of this war of Russian aggression against Ukraine is nowhere in sight. The humanitarian situation continues to escalate rapidly, with almost 1 in 2 people in Ukraine needing humanitarian assistance; 1 in 4 people in Ukraine forced to flee their homes; and 5.4 million people internally displaced," says Petr Drbohlav, the Regional Director for Eastern Partnerships and the Balkans at People in Need.

"The attacks on energy infrastructure have caused an energy crisis that is impacting tens of millions of people across Ukraine daily. Russian air strikes aim to bring chaos and suffering to the civilians in the middle of the winter when temperatures usually plummet far below zero," says Petr Drbohlav.

The situation is even worse in Siversk, a city in the Donetsk Oblast. "Everything was destroyed; the roofs were blown off, and the whole yard was destroyed. I grabbed my documents and took my granddaughter, who has a disability [and left]," Nadiia Andriivna, a resident of Siversk, tells us how she fled Siversk due to Russia's invasion.

"We thought we would stay in Bakhmut, and that would be it. But we arrived in Bakhmut, stayed for seven days, and then we ran out of medicine. My granddaughter has epilepsy, and I am recovering from a heart attack, so we need medicine. I was scared, honestly, and I started calling places. I called Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr, and places in Cherkasy Oblast. I found a shelter in the Poltava Oblast," Nadiia says as she recounts how she and her granddaughter finally found refuge in the collective centre.

Further from the front line, Russia’s massive, deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure has decimated essential services, including energy, water supply, and heating, which are vital if Ukrainians are to survive during these cold winter months. "The attacks on energy infrastructure have caused an energy crisis that is impacting tens of millions of people across Ukraine daily. Russian air strikes aim to bring chaos and suffering to the civilians in the middle of the winter when temperatures usually plummet far below zero," says Petr Drbohlav.

Despite all the difficulties associated with life amid war, the people of Ukraine have continually shown the world their inspirational sense of solidarity and resilience. They have come together to support one another, created extensive volunteer networks, delivered aid to the front line, secured evacuations, and provided medical assistance to those who need it most.

The war affects everyone

Russia’s full-scale invasion is affecting every single woman, man and child in Ukraine in one way or another. According to UN OCHA, the war has created significant obstacles to food access across the most affected parts of Ukraine. The number of people needing food and livelihood assistance in 2022 jumped to 9.3 million, from 1.1 million the previous year. The war in Ukraine has devastated the country's water system, particularly in areas close to the front line; this destruction has left millions with limited access to drinking water. Approximately 16 million people in Ukraine needed water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance in 2022.

The attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine in 2022 accounted for 70 per cent of all attacks against healthcare facilities worldwide, leaving up to 50 per cent of medical facilities non-functional in some parts of the east and south of the country. The war in Ukraine has severely impacted children and hampered education, with massive destruction of schools and displacement imposing immense challenges to the education system. Overall, the ability to learn has been severely affected by the war, and acute and ongoing exposure to conflict-related trauma and psychological stress has left almost 5 million people in need of education support in 2022.

With hundreds of thousands of destroyed houses across Ukraine, some 11.2 million people needed support with emergency shelter and essential household items in 2022. The number of collective centres across Ukraine has increased from 160 in 2021 to 7,200 in 2022. Altogether they host over half a million people, and many are ill-equipped to meet long-term accommodation needs.

Active hostilities have forced almost two-thirds of children from their homes. Around 2 million were believed to be internally displaced by the end of 2022. This displacement has impacted their education, increased family separation and abuse risks, and exposed them to immense trauma. Social isolation exacerbates this trauma, as many children have had to remain with limited no contact with friends and family due to communications outages. The war has also caused immense psychological trauma. Authorities have reported that an estimated 15 million Ukrainians need psychosocial support due to the war and exposure to the horrors of fighting.

890,000 supported people in Ukraine

People in Need has been helping in Ukraine since 2014; however, since February 24, 2022, the needs of the people there have changed, and so has our assistance. Over the past year in Ukraine only, we have helped more than 890,000 victims of war and provided €72.2 million worth of aid. Our team was 100 people a year ago but has since grown to 296.

Over the past year, we have provided food assistance to 358,911 people and bottled water to 240,706 people nationwide. In addition, we've repaired water lines and supplied clean water to 27,151 people and provided 131,114 people with vital hygiene kits. Finally, we've supplied 57,387 people with essential household equipment such as mattresses, bedding sets, and stoves, and we’ve given 13,557 families materials to undertake emergency home repairs.

To help people survive the harsh winter, we started repairing houses as soon as the local situation would allow. We've already managed to help 4,497 people with light home repairs, namely replacing broken windows and repairing damaged rooves. Over the last year, we supported 67,815 people financially and contributed to the recovery of local economies. We are still supporting 44,610 people financially to sustain them throughout the winter.

We are helping to make the time people are forced to spend away from home more comfortable. In collective centres, we've provided hot meals to 1,146 people, conducted 81 repairs, and supplied 31 with vital equipment. Our teams have focused on providing practical psychosocial support, as well. In 2022, we helped 12,682 people using our psychosocial hotline, and 24,682 people used the psychological support provided by our mobile team.

In one year of assistance, we have made education accessible to 2,092 Ukrainian children and repaired six schools. In Ukraine, we've opened 10 child-friendly spaces for kids to play or do homework. In the past year, we've helped 631 children find safe shelter in such places.

All this would not have been possible without the support of 200 local NGOs and civil society organisations.

Autor: PIN

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