Ukrainian Conflict Analysis Brief | The impact of one year of conflict on Women and Children in Ukraine

Impact Initiatives
May 19, 2023
Analysis Brief

Executive Summary

Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 OHCHR has recorded 23,375 civilian casualties in the country: 8,709 killed and 14,666 injured1 with many more incidents going unrecorded. In addition, a rise in protection risks has been driven by the ongoing conflict and massive displacement, with trafficking, abuse, sexual harassment and domestic violence being consistently highlighted by the Protection Sector. Children and women are particularly vulnerable to protection risks in conflict situations, yet access to protection services remains limited for communities close to contact line and those in recently reclaimed areas. Kherson, Dnipro and Kharkiv oblasts cited as being of particular concern.

As in most conflicts, it is difficult to know the exact numbers of children who disappeared, of women who suffered GBV and of both children and women suffering from stress and depression. UNICEF estimates that 1.5 million children are at risk of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues and 5.2 million women are estimated to have had their mental health negatively impacted by the conflict.
Children and adolescents have adopted multiple negative coping mechanisms in order to face the mental load.
Women have had to support an increasing burden of care while their income has reduced, leading to heightened levels of stress. The lack of psychological and social services is worsening this situation.

Poverty has been increasing since the escalation of the conflict. Estimates at the end of 2022 indicated that over 20% of Ukraine’s population had fallen into poverty, approximately 7.1 million people. Displacement and loss of livelihood have resulted in lower income and purchasing power, especially for women who are single heads of households and for those who must care for children, older people and people with disabilities. This in turn leads to higher food insecurity and the adoption of negative coping mechanisms including an increasing reliance on assistance. The stress on households related to loss of income is also a contributing factor to increased domestic violence.

One of the most visible impacts on children caused by the conflict in Ukraine has been the catastrophic disruption to their education. With thousands of schools damaged or destroyed, millions of children are being forced to access their education online, yet missile and drone attacks against the country’s energy infrastructure continue to heavily disrupt online learning. In addition, many vulnerable groups such as Roma, children with disabilities, children in rural areas and children living in poverty face additional challenges to access education services. All this will result in a generation of children in Ukraine, already disadvantaged by the impact of the COVID pandemic, falling further behind in their education and personal development.

There continues to be concern around young children’s nutritional status although there is a lack of recent quantitative data. The latest REACH MSNA data shows that 45% of households with babies under 6 months were facing problems feeding them. Access to baby food together with an access gap in nutrition services (especially in conflict-affected areas) and increased food insecurity (impacting the nutritional status of pregnant and lactating women), are all factors driving increased risk of malnutrition.

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