7 May 2018 - For four years armed conflict has consumed eastern Ukraine. Civilians continue to be killed and injured, and critical civilian infrastructure is routinely targeted and damaged. Today, 3.4 million people in Ukraine urgently require humanitarian assistance and protection, but the international humanitarian appeal to help address these needs is shockingly only 5 per cent funded. The humanitarian response plan urgently needs US$181 million to close the funding gap.

  1. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the fighting.

The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine is having an enormous human cost. Over 2,540 civilians have been killed and thousands more injured. Some 600,000 people, including 100,000 children, live within 10 km of a 457-kilometre contact line, where there is daily shelling, armed clashes and extreme levels of mine contamination. After four years of war, children are experts in avoiding missiles, with sandbags lining the wall of their schools. Families are well-practiced in sheltering in their basements to avoid shelling.

  1. Crossing the 457-km “contact line” puts families and vital services out of reach.

A dangerous 457-km contact line stretches across eastern Ukraine, dividing an area the size of Switzerland, with the most affected area being an unofficial 5-km ‘buffer zone’ on either side. With over one million crossings each month through the five checkpoints, families are forced to make a time-consuming and at times, dangerous journey simply to access basic goods and social services, including health care and pensions. People are often forced to wait at the checkpoints, for many hours, exposing them to risks such as shelling, sniper fire and mines. There is an urgent need for more crossing points, no-fire zones and the scale-up of explosive hazard clearance efforts to enhance people’s safety in the area.

  1. Eastern Ukraine is severely contaminated by explosive remnants.

Landmines and explosive remnants of war have killed or injured more than 1,800 men, women and children in Ukraine since 2014. Over 1.9 million people, including 220,000 children, live in areas that are heavily contaminated with explosives. In March 2018, a family of four was killed when their car hit an anti-tank mine. As well as posing a constant threat, mines and explosive remnants of war severely restrict the ability of people to move freely, curtailing their ability to work or go to school.

  1. Almost one-third of the conflict-affected people are elderly.

Elderly people are disproportionately impacted by the crisis in eastern Ukraine: 30 per cent of the 4.4 million conflict-affected people are over 60 years old. Regulatory requirements force the elderly to travel from the non-Government to Government-controlled areas to receive their pensions. Every 60 days, they must be verified and re-register as internally displaced people. Not all of them are able to travel to re-register and as a result, by the end of 2017, over 600,000 elderly people were cut off from their pensions and social services.

  1. Conflict has pushed up TB mortality rates

Hostilities have damaged or destroyed hospitals and medical facilities, and led to a shortage of critical medicine and medical personnel. Over 2.2 million people struggle to access healthcare or psychological support in conflict-affected areas. The conflict has caused cases of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis to spike in eastern Ukraine. With over 41,000 known sufferers, the TB mortality rate in Ukraine is the highest in Eurasia. (Exact figures are impossible to verify due to the lack of full application of accepted WHO standards and access to data.)

  1. Food insecurity doubled in 12 months.

Disruption of people’s access to livelihoods and social services has doubled levels of food insecurity in the last year in eastern Ukraine. Millions of people are forced to make impossible choices, such as whether they eat or access healthcare, or educate their children. Hundreds of thousands of people are increasingly resorting to negative practices to make ends meet, including taking children out of school; trafficking; survival sex; alcoholism and drug use. At the same time, critical humanitarian agencies are leaving Ukraine due to lack of funding and access, just when their services are needed the most.