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04.16.2024

Sounding the Alarm for Ukraine: Russian Advances Threaten Civilian Lives

As U.S. support for Ukraine continues to stall in Congress, Russian forces have made significant gains along eastern Ukraine and attacks on civilians are on the rise, putting millions at risk. In the month of March, there were over 604 civilian casualties, including 57 children, marking an alarming escalation in the war. As of now, 14.6 million people – or 40% of Ukraine’s population – require humanitarian assistance. Russian attacks on infrastructure, including healthcare and energy facilities, have disrupted access to health services, electricity, and water, exacerbating the already dire health and humanitarian crisis.  

“As our Congress continues kicking the can down the road, the battle lines now spread 600 miles along the Eastern border of Ukraine, engulfing hundreds of devastated communities in dozens of towns and cities. Approximately 30,000 Ukrainians have been killed and nearly 10 million have been displaced,” said Jed Meline, Project HOPE’s Director of Policy and Advocacy. “Despite the danger, ambulances, paramedics, and mobile medical units continue to provide lifesaving medical care and evacuations along the front lines, with support from organizations like Project HOPE and funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), but without continued humanitarian support from the U.S., these critical health services could stall, leaving millions without health access.” 

Along the frontlines, many villages don’t even have a working paramedic station, so residents are forced to travel to the nearest town to go to the hospital. Due to the hostilities, public transportation remains limited and usually entails long and tiring journeys that are difficult for older adults and people with disabilities. Damage to major power plants and facilities has resulted in partial – or complete – blackouts that also disrupt water and gas supplies, leading to an overwhelming need for generators and fuel to keep hospitals and health facilities active. Project HOPE’s ambulances and mobile medical units have been critical resources to deliver primary care for these communities, most of which are older adults or people with mobility issues who were unable to evacuate.   

“Since the beginning of 2024, the Kharkiv region has been under severe and constant Russian bombardment. In just the first week of April, 15 civilians were killed and another 48 were injured in the city, including a health worker. Our proximity to the Russian forces makes it nearly impossible for us to get to shelter in time, even if an air raid siren warns us of an imminent attack. Fear is a fact of daily life and has led to an influx of residents migrating inland or out of the oblast altogether,” said Ilya Gabrichidze, Project HOPE’s Program Coordinator in Kharkiv. “The village of Velykyi Burluk in the region has only one remaining healthcare facility after its other two were destroyed. Due to the increasing security risks, we recently made the difficult decision to halt our activities there.”  

In 2024, there have already been 80 verified attacks on health workers, patients, hospitals, medical transport, and supplies, crippling an already overburdened and understaffed health system. In the last two months, Project HOPE staff have narrowly escaped two different attacks. Despite these challenges, Project HOPE has continued to prioritize ways to deliver health care throughout the region. For instance, Project HOPE has completed the rehabilitation of a new ambulatory facility in Izium to provide healthcare access to 38,000 people, in addition to opening two new psychosocial support centers in Kherson and Nikopol to provide mental health support and social activities for children and adults.  

Photos and videos from our work in the Kharkiv region are available here and interviews are always available upon request. For media inquiries, contact media@projecthope.org.  

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