From Crisis To Catastrophe

Since Russia annexed Crimea and Sevastopol from Ukraine in 2014, military conflict between the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk Republics, supported by Russia, and the Ukrainian government have held the East of the country in a state of crisis.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a February 2021 report: “The continuing conflict and the prevailing absence of a political solution have taken a heavy toll on the lives of millions of ordinary Ukrainians living on both sides of the “contact line”. It has also severed previously interdependent networks of services and markets and cut people off from the cities upon which they depended for social benefits and essential services.”

In 2021, the OCHA estimated that 3.4 million people in the ‘conflict-affected areas” were in need of humanitarian assistance – representing 8 percent of the total Ukraine population.

Although this is a significant reduction from the 2015 figure of 5 million, the crisis is far from over. With the growing threat of a Russian invasion, there is a risk of it turning into a flat-out catastrophe.

Russia continues to deny it is planning an invasion, but has been very clear in voicing the Kremlin’s outright opposition to a further eastward expansion of NATO – something which the organization has refused to rule out, and with the Ukraine openly aspiring to membership of the alliance.

Diplomatic efforts have so far failed to resolve the crisis. In the meantime, the OCHA’s humanitarian partners “aim to assist 1.8 million people (in 2022), with a funding requirement of $190 million”, focusing on “saving lives, ensuring access to basic services, and strengthening the protection of those affected by the conflict and Covid-19.”

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