8 years + 2 months of war in Ukraine = roughly the population of Australia needing humanitarian aidPublished: Apr 29, 2022 Reading time: 5 minutes
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to unimaginable human suffering, this in a country where a large humanitarian crisis has already existed since April 2014. In just two months, one in every four Ukrainians has been forced to leave home, many of them running from the sounds of explosions and sirens. 15.7 million Ukrainians are currently in urgent need of humanitarian aid, and altogether over 24 million people, the population equal to Australia, will need humanitarian assistance in the months ahead.
Indiscriminate shelling and bombing of populated areas, the killing of civilians and the destruction of hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure is the daily reality for millions of people. As of 25 April, the number of civilian casualties since 24 February 2022 stands at 5,840, including 2,729 killed and 3,111 injured, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a new OCHA Situation Report. More than 47 per cent (2,759) of all casualties so far verified have been recorded in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in eastern Ukraine, where civilians are facing the fiercest fighting.
Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems and airstrikes. OHCHR believes the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from locations where intense fighting is ongoing has been delayed, and many reports are still pending corroboration.
The world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis since World War II
The war has caused the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis since World War II. Over 5.2 million people, roughly the population of Norway, have fled Ukraine to seek safety and refuge in other countries of the world; 90% of them are women and children. 7.7 million people are estimated to be internally displaced and are refugees within Ukraine. Nearly two-thirds of all children in Ukraine have been displaced. An assessment conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) between 11 April and 17 April reveals that women represent at least 60 per cent of those displaced. Western Ukraine continues to host the highest number of IDPs, some 2,850,000.
More than half of internally displaced persons—mainly in the east of Ukraine—reported a lack of certain food products; 28 per cent of families with children under the age of five say they have experienced problems getting enough food for their children since the invasion. The most pressing needs identified included cash and access to financial support, followed by medicines and medical supplies. Some 10.2 million people across Ukraine are estimated to need food and livelihood assistance between March and August 2022.
Among those currently displaced, 15 per cent plan to return to their homes in the next two weeks, heading mostly to Kyiv and the north of the country, while 8 per cent of the general population report having had their homes damaged by attacks. The IOM estimates that 2.8 million people have returned to their homes following earlier displacement, with an average length of displacement of around 30 days. These returns may be both temporary or permanent. A survey at the beginning of March, conducted by HelpAge International—PIN’s long-term partner in Ukraine—found that 99% of older people in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts had no plans to leave.
The United Nations earlier reported that 30,000 Ukrainians return to their country every day. Altogether over 870,000 people have already returned to Ukraine since the invasion.
Water under attack
Due to attacks on water infrastructure and power outages, an estimated 1.4 million people in eastern Ukraine do not have access to water. Another 4.6 million people across the country have only limited access. UNICEF estimates that an additional 4.6 million people across Ukraine are at risk of losing access to piped water. Some 13 million people in Ukraine need water, sanitation and hygiene assistance between March and August 2022.
70% of attacks on all healthcare facilities globally have occurred in Ukraine
More than 70% of attacks on healthcare facilities globally this year (164 out of 226) have occurred in Ukraine. WHO reports that attacks against health facilities, transport, personnel, patients, supplies and warehouses continue, resulting in 73 people killed and 52 injured between 23 February and 26 April. These attacks deprive people of urgently needed medical care. As a result, one in three households with at least one person with a chronic condition cannot secure medication and care in Ukraine, WHO reports. Some 12.1 million people in Ukraine are estimated to need health assistance between March and August 2022.
Hostilities impact 3.6 million children
The Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science reports that, as of 26 April, 1,397 education facilities across the country have been damaged, and 102 destroyed. Hostilities impact 3.6 million children due to the nationwide closure of schools and educational facilities. The ability to learn is severely affected by acute and ongoing exposure to conflict-related trauma and psychological stress leading to a heightened risk of school dropout and negative coping mechanisms.
The war has also devastated Ukraine’s economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its latest World Economic Outlook, has predicted a 35 per cent decrease in Ukraine’s economy this year. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, has said that economic losses due to the ongoing military offensive may exceed $1 trillion. Furthermore, some 53 per cent of employed Ukrainians have lost their jobs since the war began, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Rating Group in March.
Additionally, according to Government estimates published on 25 March, 22 per cent less agricultural land is expected to be planted in Ukraine compared to last year, and that overall agricultural production (both winter and spring crops) could decline by as much as 25-50 per cent or more, driven by the reduced spring planting, crop losses due to damage and reduced yields due to shortages of fertiliser and fuel.
There are concrete people with their own personal stories behind these huge numbers. Countless innocents, including the elderly, women, children, and people with disabilities, have been targeted in senseless attacks. People in besieged cities must hide for long days in basements, often without access to water, food, healthcare, or the possibility to escape. All of them wish that peace will return as soon as possible so that they can return to living as they did only two months ago.