On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Over the last two years, several attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure have been targeted, in many cases in violation of international humanitarian law.  As the world commemorates the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Russia has intensified its attacks in recent months. This has resulted, once again, in significant civilian casualties. 

Here are five things you should know about the war and the situation in Ukraine:

 

 

  1. Explosive Weapons Usage: A Deadly Toll on Civilians

The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has exacted a heavy toll on civilians, especially after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. These weapons, notorious for their indiscriminate nature, have caused widespread destruction of vital infrastructure, including residential buildings, hospitals, schools, and power plants. At the end of 2023, over 10,000 civilians had lost their lives, and nearly 20,000 more had been injured in the conflict. On December 29th, 2023, the drone and missile attacks carried out by Russian armed forces cost the lives of 58 civilians and injured 158 more, marking the deadliest day of 2023. According to Action on Armed Violence, 2023 saw a 49% increase in recorded incidents of explosive weapons use in Ukraine, with 2,755 incidents compared to 1,854 in 2022. 

 

  1. Refugee and Internal Displacement Crisis

The war in Ukraine has precipitated a massive displacement crisis, marking one of the largest refugee and internally displaced persons (IDPs) crises in recent history. Approximately 6.3 million Ukrainians have sought refuge abroad, with a majority harboring the hope of one day returning to their homeland. Inside Ukraine, the conflict has internally displaced nearly 5.9 million individuals, who have been forced to leave their homes in search of safety within their own country. This displacement reflects the profound personal and societal upheaval caused by the conflict, underscoring the critical need for comprehensive support and solutions for both refugees and IDPs, as they navigate the challenges of displacement and the prospect of eventual return and reconstruction.

 

  1. Geographic Scope: A Complex Conflict Landscape

The war in Ukraine spans a vast geographical area, with an active front line extending over 1,200 kilometers. Battles unfold across diverse terrains, from fields and forests to urban centers, reflecting the complexity and scale of the war. This widespread coverage underscores the challenges faced in addressing the multifaceted nature of the war, impacting both rural and urban areas alike.

 

  1. Unprecedented Destruction: Cities Reduced to Rubble

The conflict has left a trail of devastation across Ukrainian cities, with over 150,000 private residences and 19,000 apartment buildings destroyed. Educational institutions, cultural heritage sites, and medical facilities have also been targeted, leaving communities grappling with immense loss. Entire cities such as Mariupol, Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, Bakhmut, and Mariinka have been reduced to rubble as a result of relentless hostilities. As of September 1, 2023, the total documented direct damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure caused by a full-scale Russian invasion has reached $151.2 billion.

 

  1. Ukraine: The Most Mined Country in the World

Ukraine faces a grave threat from landmines, with a third of its territory now declared mined by the National Police. Surpassing Afghanistan and Syria, Ukraine’s mine contamination spans an estimated 170-180 thousand square kilometers – comparable in size to the state of Florida or nearly half of Germany. This staggering reality underscores the urgent need for mitigation efforts to protect lives and livelihoods. Kherson Oblast emerges as the epicenter of this crisis, with extensive minefields posing a significant hazard to the population. 

Image courtesy of Oleksandr Ratushnyak/UNDP Ukraine
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