We’re calling it The Forgotten Crisis of 2016.
The reason? You probably haven’t heard much about it.
For families living in the crossfire of civil war in Ukraine, forgotten is a concept they’re familiar with. Most aid organizations have left the region, and their plight goes largely unnoticed by the world.
Every day, Ukrainian families must face violence, fear, hunger, and disease completely alone. Widespread chaos and destruction means daily life is consumed with only survival.
Maybe you’re unfamiliar with the headlines on Ukraine. Keep reading to get caught up with the forgotten crisis:
1. It’s Been Going on for 3+ Years
November 2013-March 2014
After promising to sign a trade deal with the European Union, Ukrainian President Yanukovych postpones talks because of opposition from Russia. This ignites protests in Kiev—emphasizing tensions between the pro-Ukrainian west and pro-Russian east. As violence and public outcry intensify, President Yanukovych flees the capital. Russia annexes Crimea after sending soldiers in unmarked uniforms to take over.
Ukraine launches its first military action against pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. The rebels declare independence from Ukraine, and newly elected President Petro Poroshenko finally signs the controversial EU trade deal.
Pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing 298.
Ukraine and the rebels sign a cease-fire agreement and establish a non-military buffer zone. However, many believe Russia continues to send weapons and troops across the border to assist rebel forces, and a particularly harsh winter in 2014 makes the civilian humanitarian crisis critical. In February and September of 2015, new cease-fire agreements are signed after Ukrainian and rebel forces break previous agreements.
2. Millions of People have been Affected
- The UN reports more than 9,400 have been killed
- 90 percent of civilian deaths were caused by haphazard shelling of residential areas
- Nearly 22,000 people have been injured
- An estimated 3.1 million are in need of humanitarian aid
3. Basic Supplies are Dangerously Low
News outlets have largely focused on the politics and violence—but what about the men, women, and children trapped in the middle?
The situation is grim: Infrastructure systems and supply chains are breaking down, and millions are forced to survive without food, water, shelter, and medical care. Both sides are trying to control the flow of critical supplies . . . leaving ordinary people with little to survive on. Most jobs in Eastern Ukraine have been terminated, and those still working often aren’t getting paid.
The conflict has also interrupted emergency services such as hospitals, fire departments, and police authority, leaving families with nowhere to turn. Cities face daily violence as military operations often take place in densely populated areas.
These families are trapped . . . they know they’ll die if they stay, but they have nowhere to go, and no way to escape.
4. Lawlessness is the New Order
Right now, both the Ukrainian government and rebels have agreed to a cease-fire, but the agreement is fragile, and tensions are still high.
In the wake of full-on fighting, the UN reports that few are being held responsible for civilian deaths, and some killings may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. With no consequences for arbitrary killings, rape, and torture, these crimes continue to go unchecked.
5. There’s Little Peace for Ukraine
The situation in Ukraine is nuanced and highly political. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to get lost in the details surrounding the conflict. But for children and families on the inside, life on a battlefront is all too real.
At any moment, their children could be abducted, their sisters could be brutally raped, their food could run out, or they could have a medical emergency with no one to help. All safety nets have vanished.
These men, women, and children need your voice.
Sometimes it’s easier to stay uninformed than to engage with issues that are difficult. The tragedy and horror happening in Ukraine are tough to follow. But the alternative—living life numb—is no life at all.
If we aren’t willing to reach into these dark places, who will?