Ukraine: two years since the war began

Saturday 24 February marked two years since the escalation of the Ukraine war and the toll on civilians continues to be catastrophic.  

To date, 6.3 million people have been displaced overseas, with a further 3.7 million displaced within Ukraine. There have been 29,731 civilian casualties including over 10,000 deaths, and 14.6 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.  

Young boy fleeing Odessa, Ukraine at the Palanca border crossing. Photo Marijn Fidder/Caritas Germany.

To make matters worse, vital infrastructure such as water, gas and electric supplies, hospitals, schools and homes have been destroyed, making it near impossible for everyone affected to address urgent needs, and to access basic goods and services.  

Over these last two years, this devastating level of destruction has left over 10 million people without power, heating and water through two incredibly brutal winters, as the government tries to ration existing resources. 

Earlier this year, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine verified a 37 percent increase from the number of civilian casualties recorded in November 2023. 

Currently, a staggering 49 percent of the country’s population now need humanitarian assistance and protection, compared to the 3 million people in need of aid at the beginning of the conflict.  

These numbers will only increase in the coming months.  

In the short-term, we are expecting further deterioration of humanitarian conditions if hostilities persist and especially if attacks on energy and other infrastructure remain a feature of this war. Ukraine is also deep into its winter, where temperatures drop as low as -5 degrees Celsius, making winterisation an ongoing focus.

Sally Thomas, Humanitarian Emergencies Lead at Caritas Australia

“In the longer-term the widespread impact of this war on civilians is also creating a legacy of mental and physical trauma that is particularly impactful on the development and wellbeing of children. Our partners on the ground are also telling us that the war has compounded pre-existing inequalities and challenges faced by women and marginalised groups, as well as increasing the risk of gender-based violence,” says Sally Thomas. 

Our partners Caritas Ukraine and Caritas Spes-Ukraine, as well as other Caritas agencies in neighbouring countries, are working hard to provide life-saving support to displaced people. The Caritas Ukraine network is supported by 448 parish hubs and more than 1200 employees covering most regions of Ukraine and providing services in urban and rural areas. 

With your help, Caritas Ukraine has assisted more than 2.1 million people, while Caritas Spes-Ukraine has supported more than 2.9 million people affected by the war through a joint emergency response. 

Through your generous donations, Caritas Australia can offer various forms of assistance, such as emergency aid, medical supplies, food and shelter for those who have been affected by conflict in the region. Please donate today.

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