Six months of war in Ukraine

Precisely six months ago, the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, violating the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and the UN Charter.

For 182 days, the conflict has taken thousands of lives, caused untold destruction, displaced millions, and resulted in unacceptable violations of human rights. Europe faced the fastest forced population movements since the Second World War, with nearly one third of Ukraine’s population – roughly 14 million people – being forced to flee their homes.

During these 4,368 hours of war, more than 13,200 civilian casualties have been reported, including over 5,500 deaths and according to UNICEF at least 972 children have been killed or injured by violence, according to the latest numbers provided by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR). The real figure is likely considerably higher.

Since day one, the UN and its partners have scaled up operations, with more than 1,400 UN personnel on the ground, across all 24 oblasts in Ukraine, delivering supplies – food, shelter, blankets, medicine, and water – to those most in need including women, children, elderly people, and persons with disabilities. The UN’s top priority is to ensure the protection of civilians and unfettered humanitarian access to all those in need, the safe evacuation of civilians trapped in areas of fighting and the resumption of exports of vital goods.

Food and energy insecurity

After six months of war, nearly 18 million people inside Ukraine need humanitarian aid. The coming winter is a major concern after the destruction of thousands of houses and the lack of access to fuel, gas, or electricity. Indeed, it could be a matter of life or death if people are unable to heat their homes. Additionally, a third of the population is estimated to be food insecure, which is why the World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up to reach nearly 5 million people each month in Ukraine with emergency food assistance or cash but also to assist displaced Ukrainians in countries hosting refugees. Moreover, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 4.8 million jobs have been lost in Ukraine since the start of the war. If hostilities escalate, employment losses could increase to 7 million.

To address this complex and challenging situation, the UN has launched two coordinated emergency appeals to help people across Ukraine and beyond. The Organization calculates that $4.29 billion is needed to support those caught up in this worsening humanitarian crisis and more than $1.85 billion to help people who have fled from Ukraine, principally to Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. Both appeals are far from being fully funded. The UN has been asking for your support to fund this unprecedented humanitarian operation. Donations can be made to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund, one of the most effective ways for the public to directly support lifesaving humanitarian relief in Ukraine. You can donate at here.


The war’s global impact

The war goes far beyond Ukraine and is fostering a three-dimensional crisis – food, energy, and finance — pummeling some of the world’s most vulnerable people, countries and economies. Last June, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that an estimated 1.6 billion people in 94 countries are exposed to at least one dimension of the crisis, with around 1.2 billion living in “perfect-storm” countries severely vulnerable to all three dimensions. In this context, the UN called on Member-states to prioritise stabilizing record-high food and fuel prices, implementing social safety nets, and increasing financial support to developing countries.

The figures show that food prices are at near-record highs and fertilizer prices have more than doubled. Record-high energy prices are triggering blackouts and fuel shortages in all parts of the world, especially in Africa. The UN has been warning that the current food crisis may rapidly turn into a food catastrophe of global proportions in 2023. WFP estimates the ripple effects of the war could increase the number of people facing severe food insecurity by 47 million in 2022.

In this context, avoiding a major global food crisis is one of the UN’s top priorities, and the Organization has worked on an “unprecedented agreement” to resume Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea amid the ongoing war, “a beacon of hope” in a world that desperately needs it, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the signing ceremony on 27 July in Istanbul, Türkiye.

This plan will help to stabilize spiralling food prices worldwide and stave off famine, affecting millions, allowing for significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea – Odesa, Chornomorsk, Yuzhny. The departure in mid-August of the first commercial ships to sail from ports in Ukraine since late February is an enormous collective achievement by the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) – set up under the auspices of the UN, with representatives from Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and Türkiye.

The impact of the war on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe, and speeding up. We are on the brink of the most severe global cost-of-living crisis in a generation, affecting the lives and livelihoods of an estimated 1.6 billion people.


Avoiding a nuclear disaster

The UN has also been monitoring the risks of a nuclear disaster. The Secretary-General called for all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to cease immediately, underlining that any potential damage could have catastrophic consequences.  The Secretary-General urged the parties to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission with immediate, secure and unfettered access. Additionally, the UN is working with the government of Ukraine to tackle the insidious threat of unexploded ordnance, landmines and cluster munitions.

After six months of conflict, there is much to be done but the UN is already preparing the groundwork for the reconstruction and repair of critical infrastructure. The UN will continue to be on the ground to mitigate the impact of this cruel war on civilians, on both sides of the contact line. It will also work, within its mandate, to assist in resolving this conflict. A process that will require negotiations and dialogue.

It is time to stop this war. 24 August marks six months of conflict, the very same day Ukraine declared itself independent from the Soviet Union.  The UN is committed to finding peace and continues to put its good offices at the service of the parties.


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