In war, one learns to fear routine activities most people take for granted. Today, in eastern Ukraine, going to work or school, spending time outside with one’s family on a Sunday afternoon, or tending one’s garden are life-and-death gambles. CIVIC has documented the harm—death, injury, or destruction of property—civilians have suffered, and, most importantly, continue to suffer when caught in the crossfire of Ukraine’s ongoing conflict.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights began monitoring the crisis in 2014. According to its most recent report, since March 1, 2014, the conflict has claimed over 10,200 lives and injured nearly 25,000 people. The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine says some 1.7 million have been displaced within and outside Ukraine.
While the contact line has barely moved and casualties and civilian displacement dropped in the months following the partial implementation of the Minsk Agreements, fighting continues on a daily basis, and the number of civilian casualties continues to rise.
Amidst this conflict, CIVIC has completed two assessments in Ukraine—one from a civilian’s perspective, and a second assessing the Ukrainian government’s ability to better reduce harm and protect civilians. Where civilians said their primary concerns were shelling from artillery, mortars and tanks; unexploded ordinance, mines and booby traps; and abuses by military forces, such as rape, looting and harassment. The government acknowledges it needs to do a better job to protect all Ukrainians.
The government of Ukraine has made great strides in the protection of civilians since the conflict started in 2014. But more needs to be done. Into 2018, CIVIC will continue to encourage all parties to prioritize the protection of civilians, and offer practical recommendations and expertise on ways to do so.