Rapid response to the wildfires in conflict-affected areas in Eastern Ukraine

The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine has already been going on for 7 years. 3.4 million people need humanitarian assistance in 2020. A lot of them can’t meet their basic needs, because the protracted conflict damaged health facilities, roads, schools and water infrastructure.

Last week, the situation was made even worse by wildfires close to the line of contact – households’ needs increased suddenly and significantly, yet most of them don’t have the resources to cope with this kind of event.

The wildfire started on July 6, 2020, in Novoaidarsky raion where gusty wind and high air temperature contributed to the fire spread over an area of 50 hectares. It caused the deaths of 6 people, with dozens more, including children, injured and/or evacuated.

Ukraine wildfires, IMPACT 2020

According to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, the fire fully destroyed 23 residential buildings, with another 36 houses and 80 cottage houses damaged, in the village of Smolianynove, Luhansk oblast (population slightly over 1,000).

Immediately, ACTED reacted and started to assess the consequences as a result of the fire. Following some outreach to the village council, ACTED visited Smolianynove on July 9.

Smolianynove village, Eastern Ukraine, July 9
ACTED Smolianynove, 2020
ACTED Smolianynove, 2020

The fire was across the street from us and it was like the sea - a huge wave, but of fire. I was watering in the garden without a shirt and at one point I was thrown back toward the house by the force of fire, and when I got up, I realized that my back was completely burned.

B., Smolianynove village

B., Smolianynove village


While the president of Ukraine announced on July 7 that the government would provide cash support to those people who suffered, it may take some time for the affected people in need of immediate support to receive the help they need.



ACTED – as a leading humanitarian organization committed to immediate humanitarian relief to support those in urgent needs, and who has been working to support conflict-affected people in Eastern Ukraine for several years – was in a position to help. Indeed, our teams have been distributing emergency cash assistance to conflict-affected people since 2018, have standing agreements with financial service providers who can deliver the cash to people, and the human resources on staff available to implement a rapid response.

I live with my husband, who uses a wheelchair. Our sons died because of the fighting. As the wildfire began, I barely managed to pull my husband out of the house, I did not even have time to dress him. Because of the high temperature, the slate began to burst, hit me in the chest, and tore my dressing gown.

A., Smolianynove village

B., Smolianynove village

Thus on july 13, 5 days after learning that the village of Smolianynove was badly affected, and after consulting the community on their needs and preferences for receiving assistance, ACTED distributed multi-purpose cash to 77 people (42 women, 35 men – 34 households) whose residential buildings suffered from the fire (including those who were evacuated or left) and/or who were injured. This multi-purpose cash will support in meeting their various basic needs – food, hygiene, shelter, health – over the next 3 months.

ACTED was able to react so quickly thanks to the flexible support of the European Union, who funds the project “ACCESS IV: Provision of multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected populations in Eastern Ukraine”, implemented by the ACCESS Consortium and under which this assistance was distributed.

With the support of the European Union, and jointly with a group of humanitarian organizations (under the People in Need-led ACCESS Consortium), ACTED already supported over 85,000 people affected by the hostilities on both sides of Contact Line in 2019-2020. ACTED Ukraine and its partners will continue to work on addressing the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable conflict-affected populations living in Eastern Ukraine.