Ukrainian Crisis Situational Analysis

Impact Initiatives
March 5, 2024
Situational Analysis

Executive Summary


The last two months have seen the intensification of missile and drone attacks targeting Ukrainian cities, particularly during the period across Christmas and New Year, putting pressure on Ukrainian air defences. The number of casualties continues to increase with 158 civilians killed in January alone and a further 483 injured. Civilian casualties in Russian-occupied territory were also reported with the most serious incident occurring at a marketplace in the occupied city of Donetsk on 21 January when local press reported 27 civilian deaths with a further 25 injuries. For frontline communities in range of Russian artillery and rocket launchers, shelling and rockets pose an additional threat.

After months of heavy fighting and despite harsh winter conditions Russian forces have taken control of the city of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast.

Elsewhere the frontlines remain relatively stable although Russia is on the offensive in Luhansk and Donetska with fighting also continuing in Zaporizhia Oblast and on the left bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. Ukrainian forces are hampered by a shortage of shells, but the use of more advanced western weaponry and remotely piloted drones is mitigating the current shortage.


The number of Ukrainian refugees has increased slightly over the past month with over 6.480 million individuals recorded across Europe, with an estimated 4.455 million returns (both IDPs and refugees).

The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has crept up slightly to 3.7 million with the protracted nature of displacement underlined by the average duration of displacement for IDPs rising to 510 days. Also, 82% of IDPs report having been displaced for one year or longer. The largest proportion of IDPs continue to reside in the east, with Dnipropetrovska and Kharkivska Oblasts hosting the largest numbers.

The inability to earn money, security concerns, disruption to utilities and joining family/friends have been the main push/pull factors for choosing a place of displacement. The security situation and lack of services were also the two most common reasons why IDPs were not currently planning to return to their areas of origin.

Humanitarian Access

Despite access challenges, interagency convoys continued to reach frontline communities in Kharkivska Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Khersonska, Donetska providing essential humanitarian assistance and critical items to help affected populations cope with the winter. In addition, aid organizations have rapidly been addressing the most urgent needs caused by the series of attacks in December and January with heavy focus on the most affected areas of Odeska, Kharkivska, Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Lvivska, Kyivska and Donetska by mobilizing resources and people.

As of end of December 2023 (not yet including the series of attacks in January 2024), the overall access constraints index (maintained by ACAPS) has increased across the frontline areas of Donetsk,
Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia compared to November 2023, indicating an increase in humanitarian access constraints.

With more than 50 security incidents reported in 2023, indiscriminate attacks mainly close to the frontline continue to affect humanitarian aid delivery. Safety of humanitarian staff has been of highest concern as the number of humanitarian aid workers killed has nearly quadrupled from 4 in 2022 to 15 in 2023, in addition to at least 35 reports of aid workers being injured. Active conflict activities often result in the delivery of humanitarian aid being put on standby.

Access constraints of people in need of humanitarian aid have been caused by increasing demand and physical access restraints. With the increasing demand for aid over winter, aid is not always sufficient, sometimes causing competition among aid recipients or driving corrupt practices.

Other issues involved eligibility criteria resulting in some people in need being unable to access humanitarian aid and the challenges faced by vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities or some older persons, especially in remote areas.

One of the main causes behind the access constraints of humanitarian organizations to PIN remains critical infrastructure damage, including damages to storage facilities for essential humanitarian aid. The situation has also been exacerbated by protests of Polish truckers disrupting the transportation of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Access to populations in NGCA via crossline initiatives continues to be almost impossible.

Humanitarian Conditions

Food Security and Livelihoods:

Boosted by a good harvest, food inflation dropped to 7.3% year-on-year and core inflation decreased to 5.7% yoy at the end of December 2003. However, despite this and other positive economic indicators Ukraine’s GDP has declined by more than 13% since the start of the conflict, while the unemployment rate has increased from 10.3% in 2021 to 18.4% by the end of 2023.

Russian attacks targeting energy and economically essential infrastructure allied to dropping winter temperatures are putting even further pressure on households who are already struggling financially, particularly those in frontline areas.

The ongoing war has made access to food more challenging, again with frontline communities most affected as many markets and businesses remain closed. Most of the food prices in and around the frontline areas are above those experienced country-wide leaving many vulnerable households unable to afford healthy diets and reliant on humanitarian support.

Livelihood constraints and a lack of independent access to income is a factor in driving low-income female headed households into living in collective sites, marginalizing them further from public spheres. Rural women, and women over 50 years are facing added stress due to the scarcity of job opportunities, leaving them to rely more on aid or social protection payments from the state.

The war has also exacerbated the pre-existing conditions of older people, people with disabilities and limited mobility as they face challenges to access livelihoods, non-contributory pensions and other social protection schemes.

More than half of Ukrainian households have faced income reductions and majority of those households cannot meet basic needs. This reduction in income has led to the wide-spread adoption of at least one livelihood coping strategy.
The situation is likely to have worsened during the winter months with spending savings, taking additional work, reducing expenditure on health and borrowing money or food being the most reported coping strategies.

Health: Attacks on health facilities continue to constrain access to health facilities for many in Ukraine, especially for communities in frontline areas. A total of 1,475 attacks on the health sector have been verified, resulting in 112 fatalities and 244 injuries among patients and healthcare workers.

Access to healthcare services in frontline communities remains constrained with a lack of functioning health facilities, a lack of specific services (including emergency health, family doctors and pharmacies) along with movement restrictions and costs being the main barriers faced.

There have been increasing reports of medicine shortages have also increased although cost remains the main barrier. Health services and medicines continue to be identified as a need by close to a third of households.

The conflict has had a massive impact on the provision of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) with women and girls mostly affected. In addition, there are concerns around the health risks posed to newborns and infants which have been compounded by low vaccination rates. The lack of access to SRH services including gynaecological services, is contributing to an increase in the rate of unsafe abortion practices and obstetric complications.

The impact of the conflict is being felt across Ukraine with a large proportion of the population experiencing stress and anxiety. This is driving an increase in mental health issues and a greater need for MHPSS services, which although expanding, remain in deficit. Stressors included economic concerns, worries around the safety and security of family and friends, displacement, and family separation.

Access to health services continues to be challenging in NGCA’s with the use of some medical centres being repurposed, and the availability and costs of services presenting real barriers to the local population as is the requirement to have a Russian passport.

Protection: Gender-based violence (GBV) remains a prominent concern in Ukraine amidst low reporting, broken referral pathways, and limited services.

Concerningly, a recent survey of Collective Sites found that approximately 40% of assessed sites cited the absence of an on-site level mechanism to report gender-based violence, human trafficking cases, and sexual exploitation and abuse.
Documentation remains an issue with the Roma community and children born in the areas closer to the frontline who face issues in accessing necessary civil documentation; challenges also remain for some IDPs.

Households continue to report limited access to bomb shelters in parts of Ukraine and many in collective sites citing an absence of disability-friendly shelters. Mental health concerns also remain dominant as parents report their children as sometimes or often anxious and tense, while the availability of mental health services in the country remains limited.

Shelter: Over the last few months, the ongoing hostilities especially in the areas closer to the frontline, in Kyivska and in Central Ukraine continue to result in extensive damage to people’s houses. Furthermore, frequent power cuts and damage to power lines due to missile attacks left many people without electricity for hours in parts of Ukraine. Overall, access to adequate housing varies throughout Ukraine as households in the South and those displaced are more likely to report residing in shelters that are unsuitable for the cold season. IOM data shows that damage or destruction to houses is higher than the national level in the east and south of the country. Despite receiving some assistance, shelter repair remains a priority concern highlighted by population groups across Ukraine, especially those who are displaced.

Households in the south of Ukraine face challenges in accessing warm clothes for winter (despite an overall improvement in availability) with Dnipropetrovska, Donetska, and Ivano-Frankovska Oblasts particularly affected. Furthermore, access to heating remains a concern with some households lacking gas and electric heating systems most notably in the oblasts closer to the line of contact. Amidst disruptions to heating systems, the need for solid fuels remains prominent with IDP hotspots more likely to cite them as one of their top needs. Rural houses are also more likely to be affected by fluctuations in prices of these fuels as they are more reliant on them whereas urban households remain more vulnerable to reduced access to heating as they often depend on centralized heating and lack solid fuel heating appliances. Since the escalation of the conflict, heating concerns in collective sites have steadily grown as people continue to live in overcrowded and inadequate buildings.

WASH: Air strikes, missile and drone attacks have targeted critical civilian infrastructure. These attacks, compounded by shelling and rocket attacks in frontline areas, have impacted the access of hundreds of thousands of people to essential services such as electricity and water supplies.

Damage to water infrastructure and a lack of electricity were the main drivers impacting access to water with many settlements near the frontline facing high WASH vulnerabilities.

Evidence is beginning to mount on how conflict events have led to the contamination of several main water sources in Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts raising concerns about access to safe drinking water and of increased risks to the health of the local population.

WASH concerns and needs continue to be flagged at collective sites with many sites yet to make the minimum standards laid out by Resolution 930.

Most concerningly some sites reported insufficient availability of water and toilets. Other issues included a lack of gender segregation of toilets and bathing facilities and a lack of facilities accessible for people with disabilities. The need for hygiene items remains a persistent issue, mainly across northern and eastern oblasts, with the cost of hygiene items showing a small increase in the Northern Region despite decreased prices across the rest of Ukraine.
However, the availability of hygiene items has shown a small decrease.

Education: Education infrastructure in Ukraine continues to be heavily impacted by the ongoing conflict with schools and other education institutions regularly damaged or destroyed by missiles, shelling or drone/air strikes. Overall OHCHR puts the figure of educational institutions impacted since the start of the conflict as 749 damaged and 223 completely destroyed, although government figures from October put the number far higher at over 3,000.

Due to the conflict, approximately a third of Ukraine’s students are forced to access education online but a lack of essential equipment and internet connectivity continue to be significant barriers. This is particularly true for student in frontline oblasts and for children residing in collective centres. Education premises continue to be used as shelters and collective centres for IDPs and for other humanitarian purposes such as aid distribution centres, although in many cases education is only minimally disrupted.

The ongoing conflict is having a heavy impact on both children and teachers, causing a substantial toll on their mental and emotional health, thereby undermining the quality of education and impairing children's development and concentration, ultimately leading to poor academic outcomes.

New information on the extensive reopening of schools in Russian occupied territories since the start of the new academic year (2022/23) appears to show an attempt by Russian authorities to use education as a propaganda tool for the indoctrination of children where children are compelled to study in schools using the Russian curriculum. In addition, the quality education and teaching provided at the reopened schools under the occupying authorities was reportedly very poor, likely a factor in low enrolment rates.

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