Woman with grey hair and pink coat in front of house with destroyed roof
Sarah Easter/CARE

Ukraine: Two years into the war, life on the frontline is a daily lottery

Dnipro-Odesa-Kyiv-Lviv, Ukraine, 22 February -  As February 24th marks the somber anniversary of the escalation of conflict in Ukraine, the world reflects on two years of relentless turmoil, suffering, and devastation. The ongoing war has brought unprecedented challenges, leaving millions on the frontlines grappling with fear, uncertainty and dire living conditions. CARE is especially alarmed about the situation of those over 3.3 million people – including 800,000 children – who are living close to the frontlines. 

"People on the frontline tell us that their lives have become a lottery, because they don't know if they will live or die in the next hour. They only go out for short distances and only for vital activities like collecting water, supporting their elderly relatives or buying medicine or bread," says Franziska Jörn, Deputy Country Director of CARE Ukraine.

When they leave their house, they don't know if they will be attacked, if they will step on a landmine or if their home will still be standing when they come back. This is currently the harsh reality for millions of Ukrainians,
Franziska Jörn, Deputy Country Director of CARE Ukraine

In the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, over 3 million people endure daily the harrowing reality of shelling and scarcity. Stripped of basic amenities, many are confined to cold, dark basements, facing the constant threat of violence and displacement. The toll on civilian infrastructure has been catastrophic, with 1,523 medical facilities, 1,600 schools, and nearly 400 bridges reduced to rubble. Vital utilities such as electricity and water supply have been decimated, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The destruction has left nearly 720,000 people in the worst-affected parts of Ukraine with no access to adequate and safe housing. Over the last two years, the conflict has internally displaced nearly four million people. In total, 14.6 million, roughly 40 percent of Ukraine's population, will require humanitarian assistance in 2024, according to the UN humanitarian response plan. 

Woman with grey hair and pink coat in front of wooden door with inscription made with white chalk

Olga, 60, lives in the Donetsk Region, Eastern Ukraine. Here, she shows the entrance to the basement she used for shelter with her husband and pets. Olga wrote "People" on the door hoping this would inspire simpathy amid fighting. Photo: Sarah Easter/CARE

The impact of this war has been particularly devastating for women and girls. With families torn apart, childcare facilities scarce, schools shuttered, and social services diminished, they have shouldered an increasing burden of unpaid care responsibilities, particularly for children and elderly relatives.  

Moreover, the pervasive lack of security, stability, and control over one's own life, compounded by the overwhelming need for support, has given rise to a myriad of psychological challenges. While addressing basic needs is imperative, it is equally crucial to prioritize psychological well-being to restore a sense of harmony amidst the chaos of conflict. 

Healing from those traumas will require more than just a year or two; it necessitates long-term support for the people of Ukraine.
Franziska Jörn, Deputy Country Director of CARE Ukraine

CARE's work in Ukraine

CARE initiated its operations in Ukraine in March 2022. Over the past two years, CARE's programs have reached over 1.2 million individuals, providing them with essentials for survival. Initially focused on housing and basic needs for internally displaced persons, CARE is now increasingly addressing psychological support, gender-based violence, conflict-related violence, housing rehabilitation, and women's leadership development in emergencies. CARE strengthens institutional capacities in frontline regions, working to restore water supply networks and provide municipal services with new equipment to ensure quality and essential services to the population.

Woman with black coat and beige hat holding plastic bag with blue content

Sviatlana, 47, holds a warm sleeping bag received in an aid distribution, led by CARE's partner SSS. She lives in a basement with her family. In the rare moments Sviatlana goes out, she has to run to stay protected from shelling. Photo: Sarah Easter/CARE

For media inquiries, please contact Iolanda Jaquemet, Senior Humanitarian Communications Coordinator, CARE International via: [email protected]