Ukrainian Conflict | The humanitarian situation in frontline communities

Impact Initiatives
June 14, 2023
Analysis Brief


In less than a month, 500 days will have passed since the escalation of the conflict when Russian forces entered Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Since September/October last year the frontline has remained relatively static after Ukraine reclaimed control over previously occupied areas in Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts. Many communities have therefore spent six to nine months living in settlements close to or on the frontline with all the additional dangers and hardship that entails.

One direct consequence of living close to the frontline is the increased risk of death or injury from shelling or surface missile attack. Since the escalation of the conflict OHCHR have recorded 24,425 civilian casualties in the country: 8,983 killed and 15,442 injured, (although OHCHR indicates that the actual figures are considerably higher). Explosive weapons with wide area effects have been responsible for 7,469 civilian deaths and a further 14,609 civilians injured with the most significant loss of civilian lives occurring in settlements on or near the frontline. Donetsk and Luhansk regions alone account for more than half (13,079) of the recorded casualties (OHCHR 04/06/2023).

As well as the human toll, bombardment has led to the widespread damage to homes and other civilian infrastructure forcing many to live in houses in urgent need of repair. Many of those who can leave, have, reducing populations to less than 20% of pre-war levels in some areas. This includes critical workers such as health care professionals and teachers. Many businesses and shops have also closed, significantly reducing livelihood opportunities and the availability of some goods and services. Heavy mine and explosive ordnance contamination have also impacted agricultural activities in rural areas, many of which are reliant on crop production as well as increasing the risks for those who remain.

Regular shelling has resulted in power interruptions despite authorities’ efforts to restore access to electricity and gas. In some of the smaller villages, civilians, (often older people), live without gas, water, or electricity. Access to shops, health facilities and pharmacies is also difficult for those living in smaller population centres as many of these services have closed or are only partially functional and transport options to larger towns and cities are limited. Any travel brings with it the constant risk of being caught in the crossfire/shelling (OCHA 02/06/2023).

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