As the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is experiencing its most serious increase in fighting in 3 months, the humanitarian situation is quickly deteriorating. In only 1 year, the amount of internally displaced people (IDP) has risen from 17,000 in April 2014 to current 1.4 million - 1,437,967 people according to UNOCHA figures of 24 April 2015.
“1.2 million are IDPs mostly concentrated in the areas closer to the conflict zone. Another 2 million are surviving within 15 kms of each side of the combat zone, facing regular shelling. And, eventually, 2.1 million people are in the non-governmental controlled area,” said Barbara Manzi, Head of the UN Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kiev.
The government of Ukraine is overwhelmed. Modern Ukraine has never faced a humanitarian crisis, and is unfamiliar to basic concepts of humanitarian needs.
“It makes no doubt that there is a humanitarian problem in Ukraine, 5 million people are in need of life-saving assistance,” said Manzi and added “but it is not so visible, more subtle; you don’t see mass camps like in other crisis.”
Despite the staggering figures, this crisis is heavily underestimated from a humanitarian point of view. The intense focus on geo-politics and economics linked to the conflict is having a negative impact on the visibility of the humanitarian situation. According to OCHA, Ukraine has the 8th highest amount of registered IDPs in the world, and yet it is one of the less financed humanitarian crisis. This crisis needs some €284 million to cover the needs of the affected people. Up to now only 21% of that sum has been funded or pledged (€60 million).
Currently, Caritas Ukraine is helping some 40,000 people with the support of other members of the Caritas global network and international donors. The organisation provides various types of assistance:
- Financial support for the purchase of livelihoods and rental of housing in parts of Ukraine least affected by the conflict.
- Psychological support for adults and children suffering from trauma.
- Administrative support for people seeking a new home.
- A distribution of food items.
- A distribution of clothes, medicines, hygiene kits, baby nappies, etc.
- Water supply.
- Winterisation programmes;
- Medical assistance and access to health-care for the sick and wounded;
- Sending aid convoys in non-controlled areas.
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