Conflict between armed groups and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine has affected millions of people since fighting began there in April 2014. International Medical Corps and our Ukraine team have taken immediate measures to ensure the safety of staff in the country, are monitoring the highly fluid situation and stand ready to expand relief services to civilians as needed.
Clashes along the 450-kilometer line of contact (LoC) of the longstanding conflict in eastern Ukraine have had far-reaching humanitarian consequences to civilians, including loss of life and livelihoods, displacement and disruptions in access to basic needs. Residents in conflict-affected areas have experienced electricity and water cuts, as well as heating outages. Insecurity, cold weather and a difficult economic situation have further compounded people’s suffering: almost 3 million Ukrainians, primarily in areas not controlled by the Ukrainian government, have exhausted their resources and rely upon humanitarian relief to meet their most basic needs.
Now, given the invasion by Russian forces and resulting war, these numbers are sure to rise. The situation on the ground is becoming increasingly desperate.
The government has registered almost 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been forced to evacuate from homes inside the country, making it the world’s ninth-largest population of IDPs. Adding to that suffering are rising casualties: between April 2014, when the conflict began, and December 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UHCHR) estimates that civilian deaths have totaled more than 3,400, with more than 7,000 injuries. Casualties have continued to rise as the war has expanded.
International Medical Corps has significant experience in the country: we previously worked in Ukraine from 1999–2000, delivering essential relief and medicines to healthcare facilities, and training more than 500 local doctors and medical staff. In 2014, we once again began providing health services, following the collapse of eastern Ukraine’s health system in the midst of conflict.
Since then, we have been providing relief by increasing access to medical services, and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services, for those living in affected communities. Working in partnership with local organizations and the Ukraine Ministry of Health, our teams currently provide crucial mobile health services in 19 villages near the LoC, as well as critical training on infection prevention and control (IPC) to healthcare workers and community residents about health and hygiene.
Our team also provides basic mental health case management and child-protection case management services, and offers training on psychological first aid (PFA) for adults and children, as well as professional emotional-burnout workshops to community members. Since 2017, we have supported thousands of people with psychosocial support, targeting hard-to-reach areas of eastern Ukraine.
Our team inside the country stand ready to provide additional medical, mental health and other healthcare-related services in response to any escalation in the scale and scope of the conflict. We also have representatives in Poland and Hungary, where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees are headed, who are working with government agencies and local humanitarian groups to identify opportunities for providing support. Areas where we could help include providing non-food items, such as hygiene kits, blankets and other critical items for refugees at special reception centers, as well as delivering mental health support and gender-based violence response services to refugees.
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