|Feb. 13, 2019 -- A UN official on Tuesday warned of a dire humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine as the conflict enters the sixth year.
"Civilians continue to pay the highest price. More than 3,300 civilians have been killed, and up to 9,000 injured since the conflict began in 2014," said Ursula Mueller, UN assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.
In addition, 1.5 million people have been internally displaced, she told the Security Council in a briefing.
The humanitarian consequences are severe. In 2019, 3.5 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection services -- many of whom are elderly, women and children, said Mueller.
Civilians along the contact line have suffered the physical and emotional consequences of repeated, often intense, hostilities. Shelling, sniper-fire and landmines have become a daily reality for millions, she said.
Critical civilian infrastructure continues to be damaged or disrupted, compounding people's struggle. In 2018 alone, 89 incidents affected water and sanitation facilities and in the last 12 months, 12 water workers were injured due to hostilities and landmine explosions, she said.
The parties to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event minimize, civilian harm. International humanitarian law must be upheld to protect civilians and critical civilian infrastructure, at all times, everywhere and by all parties, she said.
While humanitarians today have slightly more access to civilians in need than a year ago, particularly in areas beyond government control, humanitarian access is often unpredictable, she said.
Over 60 percent of last year's Humanitarian Response Plan was not funded. As a consequence, some civilians who desperately needed assistance were unable to receive food, water and sanitation, health care and medicines, as well as protection services, she noted.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Ukraine needs 162 million U.S. dollars, said Mueller.