Ukrainian Crisis Situational Analysis

Impact Initiatives
December 19, 2023
Situational Analysis

Executive Summary


The number of civilian casualties remained high in November with at least 461 civilians killed or injured. However, this number was 24% lower than for October 2023, and 37% lower than in November 2022, continuing a trend of gradual decline in 2023.

The majority of civilian casualties (86%) and damage to educational and medical facilities (76%) continue to occur in Government-controlled territory.

Russian shelling persisted along the frontline in the east and south of the country, with missile and drone strikes also hitting Kyiv during the months of October and November. Offensives by both armies continue although with few gains on either side with Ukraine claiming to have maintained a small enclave on the west of the Dnipro River in Kherson oblast.

The onset of winter, including a cyclone in the Black Sea, impacted the tempo of military operations but fighting continued in some areas.


As of December 5, there are 6.309 million Ukrainian refugees recorded globally of which 5.905 million are in Europe (including Russia). This number has increased slightly since October when the global count was 6.200 million. IDP numbers remain stable as the number of registered IDPs has changed little over the past two months, (noting the overall IDP figure has not been updated since September 2023).

Eastern oblasts continue to be the most common origin of IDPs, as well as the oblasts hosting the most IDPs, with frontline oblasts seeing small increases in registered IDP numbers over the past three months.
For returnees Kyiv and Kyivska oblast are the primary destinations although conflicted affected oblasts in the east are also seeing a lot of returns.

Conflict continues to be the main driver of displacement although the impact on water supplies caused by the Kakhovka dam destruction is also a factor. Many of those displaced wish to remain close to their places of permanent residence despite the proximity to ongoing hostilities. Resuming a normal life, family reunification, economic reasons and improved safety and security were the main pull factors for returnees, with the latter two factors also reasons areas such as Kyiv were a destination for IDPs. Barriers to return include high levels of conflict damage and limited access services such as education and healthcare.

Humanitarian Access

Almost 22 million people have already been reached with some form of humanitarian aid since the start of the conflict. In 2023 alone at least 96 interagency convoys have reached frontline villages and towns in Mykolaivska, Odeska, Donetska, Kharkivska, Sumska, Khersonska, Zaporizka and Dnipropetrovska oblasts with essential aid including items critical for winter such as blankets and generators for heating, as well as shelter repair items and emergency food. Many of those impacted by the Kakhovka Dam Breach have also received humanitarian aid.

However, humanitarian access remains challenging. At least 14 aid workers have been killed and 29 injured since the beginning of the conflict with Kherson oblast recording the highest number of incidents. Areas under the temporary military control of the Russian Federation are almost impossible to reach for humanitarian aid delivery with severe access restrictions as heavy bombardments and fighting along the front line in the east and south of Ukraine makes access to frontline areas extremely challenging. In addition to active conflict activities, there are numerous other barriers that constrain access to aid.

This include administrative challenges particularly in the South, physical access constraints due to landmine contamination mainly in areas once occupied by Russian forced (e.g. Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts) and the continued conscription of humanitarian workers is also impacting agency’s ability to respond. Other most recent challenges that have heightened access constraints are severe weather conditions in November when heavy snowfall aggravated physical access in the Mykolaiv region and protests that have halted or delayed humanitarian aid and fuel trucks crossing from Poland to Ukraine. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam has also interrupted access in Khersonska and Kakhovka where healthcare (particularly communicable disease) has become a prominent concern.

Humanitarian Conditions

Food Security and Livelihoods: The growth in inflation rate continues to slow with the consumer price index only increasing by 0.8% in October compared to September. The slow-down in inflation rate and consumer price increases combined with a good agriculture harvest and hot tourism season gave the livelihood sector a seasonal economic boost.

However, despite seasonal highs in the livelihood sector, the labour market remains heavily affected by war related factors. Household savings are running out, public resources are increasingly overstretched, and those who are unable to access sufficient employment or material support are finding themselves in increasingly vulnerable situations. While over 50% of households still use coping strategies to cope with insufficient funds for daily needs, the seasonal high at the end of the summer showed some reduction in adapting coping mechanisms particularly among returnees.

Due to oncoming active conflict and low economic activity, the outlook for the livelihood sector remains concerning. Even though one of the largest food retailers in Ukraine has restarted operations in the severely impacted frontline area of Donetsk, market functionality is weakening as 46% of retailers nationwide and 96% in the North anticipate new challenges in the business environment due to war. Combined with overall livelihood insecurity and market dysfunction, the impact of the war on agricultural production is likely to increase or at least sustain food insecurity particularly in areas such as Mykolaivska, Kharkivska and Khersonska. Economic stability and outlooks in Khersonska and Dnipropetrovska are further aggravated by the Nova Kakhovka dam breach as overall losses are estimated at USD 77 million.

Cash assistance generally remains the highest priority need and the most useful form of assistance across all locations and population groups.

Health: Attacks on hospitals and medical facilities continue with medical staff and patients being killed and injured with frontline areas such as Khersonska and Donetska oblasts heavily affected. However, a comprehensive mapping of the operational status of health facilities indicates that across Ukraine 92% of health service delivery units remain undamaged.

Damage to health infrastructure and disruption to health services caused by the Nova Kakhovka Dam breach are estimated to have resulted in a loss of US$64.6 million. Urgent actions are required to improve access to health services and mitigate the health risks caused by the flooding.

Conflict damage, insecurity and lack of staff were amongst the most common reasons cited for a lack of functionality, especially in frontline oblasts.

Barriers to healthcare remain across Ukraine although the evidence paints a mixed picture regarding the severity of the situation. IDPs and those living in frontline areas appear the worst affected, with more specifically, rural women and people with limited mobility facing additional challenges. Healthcare and medicines remain a major need identified by IDPs and non-displaced populations although prices remain relatively stable and over the counter medicines are generally available. IDPs also report the widespread use of health-related coping mechanisms. Access to healthcare in NGCAs remains challenging as local authorities are requiring civilians to have a Russian passport to access medical services. Other factors such as a lack of staff and equipment are also constraining health service provision.

Protection: Various protection issues remain prominent in Ukraine with forced deportation of children, gender-based violence and increasing psychosocial stress coming to be the most prominent concerns of the people.
Also, the concern around children who have been or are being deported from Ukraine to Russia remains prominent. IDPs and returnees are also reported to be facing challenges in obtaining necessary documentation needed for their integration with the community. Many also continue to report family separation as one of their main concerns with young people awaiting reunification.

Safety and security concerns remain prominent in the frontline areas for population groups with high numbers of security incidents reported by returnees living in Khersonska, Chernihivska, Khmelnytska and Donestka oblasts. Women from low-income households and those who are domestic violence survivors are more likely to report lower levels of personal safety than others. Additionally, the presence of landmines and other explosives have limited people’s freedom of movement with some households living very close to the frontline indicating that this is reducing employment opportunities.

Throughout Ukraine, gender-based violence in the forms of sexual violence, intimate partner violence and domestic violence have become a major issue.

Women and girls travelling alone and those living in collective sites being the most vulnerable to exploitation. Reports of war crimes and of Ukrainians living in the NGCA’s being forced to adopt Russian Citizenship also continue to be raised.

Additionally, the ongoing situation continues to affect the mental health of people especially older people, people with disabilities and the LGBTQA+ community who have additional vulnerabilities and are more likely to report psychological stress than others. Many continue to report limited access to MHPSS services with nearly 30% of men and women reporting no access to these services.

Shelter: Shelter issues have grown significantly in Ukraine as temperatures drop, a pattern very similar to the previous year. Damage to residential properties continued in the months of October and November especially in Khersonska, Donetska and Zaporizka oblasts. Limited availability of heating appliances has been reported to be a concern especially in the displaced households living in areas closer to the frontlines. Damaged heating infrastructure and high electricity prices are also likely to affect household’s resilience in the winter months especially in the absence of alternate forms of heating. In such a scenario, the importance of solid fuels has also risen, and they are one of the most crucial winterization products. Along with solid fuels, winter clothing and blankets have also been cited as important needs by various population groups.

Another issue is the price of rental accommodation with the prices of one-bedroom apartments for example, growing significantly since the escalation of the conflict. This could be a concern in the coming months as many continue to live in damaged housing, unable to afford rent or shelter repairs making the ongoing winter even more difficult.
Returnees and non-displaced households in particular are more likely to live in damaged shelters which require reconstruction or repair.

WASH: Attacks on energy and WASH infrastructure continue with the subsequent disruption of utilities reducing access of water for many. In recent months attacks in Kherson and Odesa have been highlighted but all frontline oblasts are being impacted. With winter approaching access to functional water supplies is a particular concern as many heating systems rely on the water supply. The damage to WASH infrastructure and subsequent losses caused by the Kakhovka Dam breach is totalled US 148.74 million with the government and humanitarian agencies required to supply millions of litres of drinking water to those affected. Large scale repairs are needed to damaged infrastructure as well as alternative water supply solutions for those who have lost access to water due to the draining of the Kakhovka Reservoir.

Access to hygiene items remains an issue in some areas with prices continuing to rise in the east despite an overall drop across the country as a whole. Conflict is impacting access to markets in the North, South and East macro-regions with close to a third of IDPs flagging hygiene items as a need.

WASH issues continue to be flagged at collective sites with one in five sites not providing enough water to meet the needs of residents. Issues around poor water quality, inadequate bathing facilities and a lack of washing and drying machines were also highlighted. Of particular concern are the lack of facilities to cater for residents with disabilities and the lack of gender segregated toilets and bathing facilities in some sites, leading to heightened GBV risks.

Overall, assessment findings indicate that most returnees have adequate access to water, however there may be some areas (mostly amongst those close to the frontline) where water supply disruption is more commonplace. Older persons and communities living on the frontline are more likely to face issues in accessing adequate amounts of water (especially drinking water).

Education: Education infrastructure continues to be damaged by conflict events including missile and drone strikes as well as shelling, with frontline oblasts the most heavily affected. Damage to utility networks will also disrupt access to schooling.

According to government sources, a total of 3,793 educational institutions have been damaged, 365 of which have been completely destroyed since the beginning of the current conflict. The extent of the damage to education infrastructure in Ukraine has been detailed in a new report published by Human Rights Watch. In addition to damage, schools have been used for military purposes including encamping soldiers within them, for treating injured soldiers and as detention centres for civilians.

Issues with school functionality along with security issues have left many children using online learning or a hybrid approach. Save the children estimate that more than 40% of children in Ukraine were not able to go back to school full time when classes opened 1 September and had to rely on online or hybrid learning with a lack of bomb shelters in schools and the threat of air strikes a particular factor.

Disruptions to internet connectivity and electricity supplies along with the lack of a suitable learning space are some of the main barriers to those learning predominantly online.

The ongoing conflict is taking a heavy mental and emotional toll on both children and teachers, negatively impacting the quality of education and reducing children’s capacity to learn.

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