• Crisis Severity ?
    3.5
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    3.2
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    4.1
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    2.7
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    3.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 42,074,000 Total population [?]
  • 1,458,000 People displaced [?]
  • 3,400,000 People in Need [?]
  • 1,700,000 Severe humanitarian conditions - Level 4 [?]

Overview

07/04/2020

The conflict in Ukraine is largely fuelled by ethnic and political divisions surrounding Ukraine’s relationship with Russia. Protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych erupted in November 2013. A violent crackdown by state security forces followed, drawing more protesters. By May 2014, President Yanukovych had fled the country, the Russian military took over and formally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region, and pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine declared independence, resulting in active conflict.?

Since 2014, more than 3,000 civilians have died,  more than 7,000 have been injured,  and approximately 1.5 million people have been displaced. Although the conflict has largely become a stalemate in recent years, clashes and shelling occur regularly, affecting 5.4 million people in eastern Ukraine, particularly those near the contact line that divides government-controlled areas (GCAs) and non-government-controlled areas (NGCAs).?

Despite multiple ceasefire agreements, violations are regularly reported and critical civilian infrastructure including water and electricity systems are frequently damaged. Shelling and landmine contamination, especially in NGCAs, limits the ability to deliver services such as infrastructure repair or emergency medical transportation. Older people are more likely to remain in these areas and are therefore disproportionally affected by isolation and limited access to WASH, healthcare, food, and livelihoods.?

INFORM measures Ukraine's risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster to be medium, at 4.6/10.?

Latest Developments

06/01/2021

There are no recent developments. This crisis is being monitored by our analysis team.

ACAPS' team is daily monitoring the impact of COVID-19. For more information on the impact of COVID-19 in Ukraine, see the relevant paragraph below.

Humanitarian Access

21/01/2021

HIGH CONSTRAINTS

Although the conflict in Eastern Ukraine has reached a stalemate in recent years, insecurity and administrative restrictions continue to constrain humanitarian access. The presence of landmines and indiscriminate shelling have restricted the movement of people and humanitarian agencies within non-government-controlled areas (NGCA) in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. Administrative requirements from both government and non-government authorities have delayed aid delivery and forced organisations to scale back their programming, especially in NGCA. COVID-19 restrictions have affected the operations of crossing points. As at December, only two border crossing points were open for crossings (one in Donetsk and one in Luhansk). The crossing point allowing travel from Luhansk GCA to Luhansk NGCA – Stanytsia Luhanska – does not have the structural capacity to allow for the transportation of heavier goods and materials, which have to be transported manually. The transit of cargo convoys through Donetsk NGCA into Luhansk NGCA is also challenging and unreliable because of lengthy approval procedures. Temporary closures, document requirements, and an obligation for people to install a contact tracing mobile application to access GCA have led to increased delays at crossing points. On 25 November, the Government of Ukraine approved a list of humanitarian exemptions that would still allow crossing into GCA in case of future crossing point closures, streamlining the process for entry into GCA. ?

Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.

Risk

Moderate conflict escalation in Donbas leads to casualties and an increase in humanitarian needs Latest update: 04/04/2021

Probability

Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely

Impact

Very low Moderate Major

Risk rationale

The ceasefire agreement reached in July 2020 between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine led to a significant decrease in the level of conflict.? Low-level conflict continues however, and the number of ceasefire violations has been increasing since December 2020 - with a 22% increase in violations reported in January 2021 compared to December 2020. More than 80% of the ceasefire violations in January and February 2021 were reported in Donetsk region, where a rising number of military casualties has been reported since December 2020.? These developments increase the probability of the latest ceasefire collapsing, leading to renewed conflict escalation in Donbas.

Since December 2020, active preparatory military activities have been reported in both government- controlled areas (GCA) and non-government-controlled areas (NGCA), including repair works, digging of trenches, and new arms being bought such
as drones or missiles.? Increased military preparedness on both sides, an unstable political situation, growing anti-Russia sentiment, and a pervasive lack of agreement around the holding of local elections in Donbas contribute to the risk of renewed fighting.?

Conflict escalations in Ukraine are often politically motivated and increase around significant political dates or events.? The Ukrainian president is preparing to host a diplomatic summit in August 2021 aiming to refocus international attention on the conflict in Crimea.? Similarly, the 30th anniversary of Ukrainian independence will take place on 24 August.? It is likely that conflict incidents will increase because of attempts by political stakeholders to reassert their positions in preparation for these events. If political negotiations fail, military preparedness between GCA and NGCA intensifies, and ceasefire violations increase, there is a risk that the ceasefire could fail and moderate, localised conflict escalations could be seen.

Risk impact

Localised fighting is likely to be centred between 0-30km along the 427km-long contact line dividing east Ukraine into GCA and NGCA. Critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and WASH facilities are likely to be affected by localised fighting, resulting in increased needs for WASH, health, and education. Water infrastructure in south Donbas is likely to be affected. 68% of the 3.4 million people considered in need of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine live within 20km of the contact line. Renewed conflict will increase the severity of their needs and their reliance on increasingly negative coping mechanisms.?

Two out of five entry-exit crossing points between GCA and NGCA that are currently open will likely close in the event of conflict escalation, further limiting mobility that is already constrained by COVID-19 movement restrictions. Around 50% of people in need living in the affected areas are elderly or have a disability, and are therefore expected to face difficulties in moving to safe areas because of movement limitations.? The conflict is expected to result in extreme humanitarian access constraints, worsened by insecurity and movement restrictions in both GCA and NGCA,  aggravating the already difficult access situation and capacity of NGOs.

Industrial facilities in Mariupol, Donetsk, and Horlivka store chemical and explosive materials. Conflict around these areas will increase the risk of pollution, leading to illnesses and agricultural damage in already hard-to-reach areas.

Read the full Global Risk Analysis here.

Read this risk

Key Priorities

07/04/2020

WASH: Active conflict has damaged water treatment facilities, pipelines, and pumps and limits repairs. Water cuts, limited water treatment options, and inability to pay for hygiene products are common. Additionally, 81% of heating in Donetsk and Luhansk relies on water-based systems.?

Protection: Landmines and IEDs pose a significant risk, especially near the contact line, where up to 1 million crossings are recorded monthly, the majority are pensioners traveling to collect social payments. Checkpoints require vulnerable populations to stand for hours, exposed to natural elements and the most conflict-affected areas. Civil documentation issued by separatist authorities is not recognised by Ukraine, and around 57% of births in NGCAs are unregistered.?

Health: Power shortages, damaged infrastructure, and disruptions in water systems have affected the functioning of health facilities, especially in NGCAs. Many health professionals fled in 2015. Healthcare is characterised by high prices, medicine shortages, and outdated equipment. This is particularly concerning given that 30% of the population in conflict-affected areas are elderly and suffer from chronic diseases.?

Information Gaps

07/04/2020

Up-to-date information on needs in NGCAs of Luhansk and Donetsk is minimal as access is very limited.

Humanitarian needs assessments often focus on needs in GCAs and NGCAs of Luhansk and Donetsk while there is little information on needs in Crimea.