The ongoing war in Ukraine can be seen as an escalation of the conflict that has affected the country’s Donbas region for more than eight years. Protests by pro-Russian groups opposed to the Ukrainian government began in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in March 2014. These demonstrations, which were part of wider concurrent protests across southern and eastern Ukraine, escalated into an armed conflict between Ukrainian troops and the separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR, respectively).
Now, as the war endures, the humanitarian situation becomes ever more hazardous. People in areas directly affected by conflict are in immediate need of life-saving support like food, clothes and hygiene items. They face a breakdown in the provision of basic services like healthcare, transport and electricity.
As the situation continues to unfold, over 8 million people have fled Ukraine into countries across Europe. The UN has set up a regional refugee response plan to help host country governments ensure safe access to their territories for Ukrainian refugees and third-country nationals fleeing the conflict, in line with international standards and conventions.
The war has impacted on all aspects of the lives of the Ukrainian population. Health, education, food and sanitization services are all impeded by barriers related to military hostilities. These include the imposition of curfews and martial law; the reduced availability and accessibility of goods and services; damage to roads, transportation and transit systems; fuel shortages; restricted movement through military checkpoints; safety concerns in facilities; lack of specialized hospital beds and medical equipment; etc.
The Protection Cluster, a group of 126 UN and other humanitarian organizations focused on protecting vulnerable populations, assessed that exposure to shelling and contamination by landmines; restrictions on the freedom of movement; and family separation are the main risks to the safety of Ukrainians. The cluster also concurs with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that women and children; persons with disabilities and/or serious medical conditions; the elderly; and minority groups are increasing.
Since February 24, 2022, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada has been responding to an emergency appeal issued by its Ukrainian partners through the Caritas Internationalis network. This is allowing the partners to support vulnerable individuals and families displaced by the armed conflict in meeting their essential needs, especially in the initial phases of their displacement, so that they may preserve their dignity. We are also supporting select partners in Central and Eastern Europe in their efforts to receive and settle Ukrainian refugees.
Our partners within and outside Ukraine are ensuring that:
Sectors in which our partners are active include food security and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); shelter/settlement; and non-food items (e.g., blankets, hygiene kits, etc.).
Over time, our support will include two dimensions: an emergency response mostly providing time-critical aid for life-threatening conditions; and support for sociocultural and infrastructure reconstruction in communities affected by the conflict. Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada will seek to support more localized humanitarian responses and projects in whose formulation local communities play active roles.
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