Ukraine Article

A conflict on the doorsteps of the European Union: Donbas, Eastern Ukraine

On the doorstep of the European Union, an armed conflict is destroying the lives of thousands of people. The protracted conflict in the Donbass basin has already killed 3000 civilians and injured 9000 more since 2014.

The Donbass region is divided by a 450 km long front line, the contact line, which separates the Luhansk Oblast on one side from the Donetsk Oblast on the other side. 3.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The populations along the contact line live in a situation of permanent insecurity due to daily fighting. Many families have lost their homes as a result of the bombings. Others continue to live in their homes, damaged by the shock waves and at risk of collapse. Civilian infrastructure is damaged and the areas is contaminated with mines and other unexploded ordnances of war. Besides the permanent physical insecurity, people face other protection risks, the Donbas people have no freedom of movement. Life is particularly difficult for the elderly, sick and disabled.

Destruction of civilian infrastructure

The total cost of damage to civilian infrastructure in Donbas is estimated at about $150 billion. 20% of the roads in the Donbas region have been destroyed.

substandard road quality and a lack of public transport become both the norm and a daily challenge for the population, who find themselves isolated and confronted with huge difficulties, especially in accessing medical services. It takes an average of 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive in Luhansk Oblast.

Bad roads also complicate the delivery of humanitarian aid, food, medicine, and the access of medical and social assistance or demining staff. The country’s climatic conditions, with particularly harsh winters, only further exacerbates the situation.

Valentyna, Andrian, Raisa and Nina suffer from chronic diseases and disabilities. They testify to their daily lives at the heart of the conflict, and to their difficulties in accessing the medical care they so desperately need.