Eastern Ukraine has been destabilized by ongoing conflict since 2014 between the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Republics on one side and the Ukrainian government on the other.
These clashes have caused the death of more than 3,000 civilians, injured 7,000 and impacted 5.4 million people. The Minsk agreements signed back in 2015 have not led to any prospect of stabilization and peace.
Moreover, since February 24, 2022, the situation has deteriorated considerably with the launch of military operations on Ukrainian territory, leading to the internal and external displacement of several million people. This is the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. At least 12 million people are in need1.
Regular air and ground attacks are severely affecting the functioning of essential services, such as hospitals, health centers, schools, but also the livelihoods of the civilian population.
1) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Description of the mission
Première Urgence Internationale is operational in the Donetsk Oblast (equivalent to a “county”), on both sides of the contact line dividing the non-government controlled areas (Non-Government Controlled Areas, NGCA) and the territories controlled by the Ukrainian government (GCA).
In the midst of a humanitarian situation that has created needs at all levels for the population, Première Urgence Internationale‘s strategy has been to develop an integrated approach combining health, mental health, access to water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities. Première Urgence Internationale‘s support ranges from direct assistance to the beneficiaries (free access to medicines) to more structural assistance to the health and social system (supply of medical equipment, for example).
Premiere Urgence Internationale in action
In 2020, despite the beginning of the health crisis linked to COVID-19, Première Urgence Internationale teams in Ukraine continued their support to health facilities and to vulnerable people in gaining access to healthcare.
Première Urgence Internationale has been very active in the response to COVID-19, strengthening the capacities of health centers, hospitals and retirement homes through distributions (hygiene kits, personal protective equipment, vouchers), training and psychosocial support.
In 2021, through its three intervention areas of health, mental health and psychosocial support, and water, sanitation and hygiene, Première Urgence Internationale assisted 57 health and social institutions on both sides of the line of contact and provided direct assistance to 16,000 people living in areas affected by the conflict.
However, the new scale of the conflict and the escalation of violence in Ukraine since February 24, 2022 have greatly disrupted the continuity of activities in our areas of intervention. The partnerships set up with health facilities and pharmacies have so far made it possible to maintain care and access to medicines for the most vulnerable.
Première Urgence Internationale has reviewed the structure of its mission in order to continue to respond to the most urgent needs in health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and food security.
Première Urgence Internationale‘s response to the emergency is based on three axes:
- strengthening our existing presence in Ukraine,
- extending operations in other areas affected by the war in Ukraine,
- Providing relief to refugees in Poland.
This way, 350,000 people affected by the conflict would be covered by the actions of Première Urgence Internationale.
Ukraine: the impact of conflict on mental health
The conflict that began on 24 February this year on Ukrainian territory has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of populations already psychologically weakened by eight years of conflict in the Donbass region. In a matter of weeks, mental health has only worsened, requiring urgent care and follow-up.
UKRAINE EMERGENCY : How far will this war go?
On the 14th day of the Russian military offensive, the situation in Ukraine is critical. Assaults are increasing in several parts of the country, causing a growing number of deaths and injuries among the civilian population. Many buildings have been destroyed: schools, houses, roads. The people who stayed behind are striving to protect themselves the best they can in precarious shelters. In the meantime, hope of a ceasefire is fading by the day.