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USCRI Update: The Humanitarian Situation in Ukraine March 2024

By USCRI March 7, 2024

“The war in Ukraine continues to inflict immeasurable human suffering, deaths and destruction, putting millions at risk of serious violations and generating grave humanitarian needs.” – UN OCHA

 

February 24, 2024, marked two years of war in Ukraine following Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022. Two years of Russia’s war in Ukraine have devastated the civilian population. Violence, destruction, and violations of international law continue to create dire conditions for civilians living in Ukraine and fuel widespread displacement both in and outside of the country.

The following is an update as of March 2024 on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

Mass Displacement

In January 2024, the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified 29,731 civilian casualties in Ukraine from February 24, 2022, to January 21, 2024. This figure represents 10,287 civilians killed and 19,444 injured, with actual figures likely far higher. OHCHR’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) verified that at least 641 civilians were killed or injured in Ukraine in January 2024 alone.

Indiscriminate attacks and bombardments continue across Ukraine, resulting in the forced displacement of civilians. On February 15, a series of missile attacks in Kyiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, and Lviv resulted in civilian casualties. On February 12, 2024, The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reportedmore than 47,000 incidents involving armed clashes, airstrikes and other attacks” took place throughout Ukraine in 2023, representing an increase of over 12,000 from 2022. Attacks on schools, hospitals, energy facilities, and other civilian infrastructure severely limited access to essential services and resources. As of February 9, 2024, the Donetska and Kharkivska oblasts were recorded as the top two oblasts for the greatest number of attacks in 2023 (Donetska 20,658, Kharkivska 6,815) and highest percentage of educational institutions destroyed or damaged in 2023 (Donetska 83%, Kharkivska 54%). Both oblasts are frontline communities, which continue to bear the gravest impacts of the war.

In 2024, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that displacement in Ukraine is expected to become protracted as the third year of war begins. The situation in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine are particularly volatile as shelling and attacks on civilian infrastructure are a daily occurrence. Millions of people remain displaced by the war both within Ukraine and in the region. An estimated 3.7 million people are currently internally displaced in Ukraine and 5.9 million refugees and asylum-seekers are spread across the European region. Women (47%) and children (33%) make up over 80% of the Ukrainian refugee population. In 2024, 14.6 million people in Ukraine will need humanitarian assistance, including populations experiencing multiple vulnerabilities, such as people with disabilities, the elderly, and children. On February 21, 2024, the UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Denise Brown reported that the UN’s humanitarian appeal for Ukraine is only 10 percent funded for 2024.

Ukraine’s Children

After two years of war, children displaced both within and outside of Ukraine continue to suffer. In March 2022, the child displacement rate in Ukraine was reported to be one of the largest and fastest displacements of children since World War II.  When children are displaced, they face heightened risk and threats to their protection. Children both in and fleeing Ukraine have been killed and injured, separated from their families, had their education disrupted, and childhoods ripped apart.

In his 2023 Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict, UN Secretary-General António Guterres listed Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups in his annexes of parties that commit grave violations against children in war. This marked the first time a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council was listed in the annexes for grave violations against children. In this report, the UN verified 2,334 violations against children in Ukraine in 2022, including the killing and maiming of 1,386 children, 751 attacks on schools and hospitals, and the abduction of 92 children. Actual figures are likely higher and violations from 2023 will be included in the next report.

Notably, in March 2023, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

In 2024, the situation for children in Ukraine remains critical, particularly in frontline areas, where the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) highlighted a humanitarian situation that is “becoming increasingly difficult and scores of children are continuing to pay the price for violence.” Just four days before the two-year anniversary, UNICEF Ukraine reported that schools and preschools were damaged in recent attacks on areas in the Kherson and Kharkiv regions. On March 2, 2024, five children – majority under the age of three – were killed alongside seven adults when a drone or its remnants hit a residential building in Odesa.

International Protection

The international community’s response to those displaced by the war in Ukraine was swift, showing its capacity to meet humanity’s needs. In September 2023, the European Union (EU) extended the application of its Temporary Protective Directive (TPD) until March 2025, offering protection status for Ukrainians who found safety in the EU. In August 2023, the Biden administration announced an extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukraine for 18-months, providing work authorization and protection from removal for eligible Ukrainian nationals in the United States.

As tens of thousands of Ukrainians arrived in the United States after Russia’s invasion, in April 2022 the Biden administration also announced the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program, providing Ukrainians who are approved for travel authorization under U4U two years of humanitarian parole for entry and admission into the United States.

On February 27, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released details on a re-parole process for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members in the United States. Ukrainians and their family members paroled into the United States on or after February 11, 2022, can be eligible to apply for up to two years of parole through affirmatively filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

 

Click here to download this USCRI Update.

 

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

For inquiries, please contact: policy@uscrimail.org


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