A humanitarian catastrophe looms in Ukraine

Residents and truck drivers seeking to leave the capital in a traffic jam in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo credit: Erin Trieb/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Residents and truck drivers seeking to leave the capital in a traffic jam in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo credit: Erin Trieb/Bloomberg via Getty Images

We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine and surrounding area which is now unfolding, and threatening many lives and livelihoods. We see risks of food shortages and huge numbers of women, men, and children forced to flee from their homes. The destruction of infrastructure like hospitals and health services could lead to a rapid spread of diseases, including COVID‑19.

Mercy Corps provided humanitarian assistance in Ukraine following the 2014 conflict, helping over 200,000 people with emergency cash, food, water, and sanitation supplies. We helped restore war-damaged homes, and provided small business grants and training to help people rebuild their lives and support themselves and their families.

Right now, Mercy Corps is mobilising a team to the region to assess where help is most needed. Here’s what we know:

  • 2.9 million Ukrainians were already in need of urgent humanitarian assistance prior to the current escalation of conflict, and at least 1.5 million are displaced within their country.
  • As the conflict expands across Ukraine, we anticipate a large-scale humanitarian crisis for the country, beyond the scope of aid operations currently there.
  •  We’re particularly concerned about the elderly, who make up one-third of people in need of assistance, and people with disabilities. We’ve seen these populations at risk in other areas of conflict around the world.
  •  The current conflict has already initiated large-scale displacement, and could lead to the displacement of millions of civilians who will need basic services and support after fleeing for safety within Ukraine and to neighbouring countries.

As the crisis in Ukraine escalates by the hour, every effort must be made to minimise a humanitarian catastrophe and protect those most at risk. We will keep our supporters informed on this rapidly changing situation.