Situation Overview as of 12 p.m. on 18 May
General humanitarian situation. Intense fighting continued in eastern Ukraine throughout the reporting period, especially in Luhanska oblast (east), while airstrikes and missile attacks were reported almost daily in several oblasts across the country. On 17-18 May, hostilities in Luhanska oblast were reported to move closer to its administrative centre – Sievierodonetsk. It was also reported that at least four civilians had been killed and one injured and that there had been more significant damage to civilian housing and infrastructure. While Luhanska oblast has been the most affected by hostilities, active fighting and air attacks have also been reported in eastern Donetska and Kharkivska oblasts. Throughout the week, there were also reports of airstrikes elsewhere, often hitting infrastructure but also residential areas and resulting in civilians being killed and injured. Namely, the strikes reportedly affected an oil refinery in Poltavska oblast (centre), residential homes in Zaporizka oblast (south-east), the energy infrastructure in Dnipropetrovska oblast (centre), a residential building, kindergarten and other buildings in Sumska oblast (north-east), residential areas of Chernihivska oblast (north), railway infrastructure in Lvivska oblast (west) and a private house in Mykolaivska oblast (south).
Meanwhile, in southern Khersonska oblast, humanitarian needs are growing – especially for medicines, food and cash – as active hostilities have been reported as continuing around Vysokopilska hromada, south of the Government-controlled Kryvyi Rih (Dnipropetrovska oblast). On 14 May, a gas pipeline was reportedly damaged in Stanislav (west of Kherson city). Moreover, on 16 May, Kherson Mayor said that medicines would run out in two weeks, adding that oxygen supplies were also limited. The oblast authorities have reported disruptions to electricity and water supplies as well as to cell phone and online services in both Government-controlled and non-Government-controlled areas (GCA and NGCA), and that food is running low in some places. The need for cash and medicines is also widespread. The authorities have also been calling for safe corridors to evacuate civilians and deliver humanitarian aid. Reportedly, however, residents have only limited freedom of movement within the oblast and are not allowed to leave new NGCA areas, while volunteers with humanitarian aid are not allowed to enter. There was a report on 17 May of some civilians waiting for several days in a kilometres-long queue of vehicles – trying to drive north out of Khersonska oblast. There have also been reports of evacuation efforts in other areas.
Civilian casualties and damages to civilian infrastructure.According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as of 17 May, the number of civilian casualties stands at 7,964 in the country: 3,778 killed and 4,186 injured, according to OHCHR. More than half (4,326) of all casualties so far verified have been recorded in GCA and NGCA of Donetska and Luhanska oblasts. The actual number of civilian casualties across Ukraine is likely considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed, and many reports are still pending corroboration.Separately, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General reported on 13 May that there had so far been over 640 child casualties of the war, including 226 children reportedly killed and another 420 injured. The Prosecutor General’s Office said that most of the casualties, 139, had been registered in Donetska oblast, followed by 116 in Kyivska (north) and 99 in Kharkivska oblasts and that there were also significant numbers in Chernihivska (north), Khersonska, Luhanska, Mykolaivska (south) and Zaporizka (south-east) oblasts. The UN conducts independent verification of civilian casualties, which might differ from the number of civilian casualties reported by the UN Member States.
The Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) in Donetska oblast (NGCA), on its official website, maintains a database of war damage, listing daily damage to infrastructure and social facilities in the NCGA of Donetska oblast, including medical facilities, educational institutions, social and production facilities (i.e., garages, workshops, administrative offices, grocery stores, etc.), critical infrastructure facilities (i.e., hazardous materials storage, transformer sub-stations, water storage, etc.), and electricity, water and gas supply facilities. The records show damage recorded since the beginning of 2022, however, the figures have not been independently verified by the UN. As reported, the majority of the damage has occurred since 24 February. Since the beginning of 2022, as of 18 May, 3,466 residential buildings have been damaged. In addition, 729 civil infrastructure facilities have been affected, including nearly 320 electricity, water and gas supply facilities, over 210 social and production facilities, more than 120 educational institutions, over 40 medical facilities and more than 25 critical infrastructure facilities.
The London-based charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) reported on 12 May that at least three people had been killed and 19 others injured in an airstrike that hit a school in Novhorod-Siverskyi (Chernihivska oblast). Reportedly, several air-fired missiles hit a school building and a boarding school, and the resulting fire also damaged an administrative building and a number of houses. The report also cites Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, saying that, while it has been claimed that only military facilities are being targeted, the war is deeply impacting the country’s children. Overall, according to theUkrainian Ministry of Education and Science, as of 18 May, 1,604 education facilities across the country have been damaged and 144 destroyed.
War crimes allegations. Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a new report published on 18 May, confirmed that evident war crimes were committed in Chernihivska and Kyivska oblasts from late February through March when civilians were subjected to “summary executions, torture, and other grave abuses.” HRW said that, in 17 villages and small towns visited last month, it investigated 22 apparent summary executions, nine other unlawful killings, seven cases of torture, and six possible enforced disappearances, and that 21 civilians described unlawful confinement in inhuman and degrading conditions. HRW said that it also interviewed 65 people between 10 April and 10 May – including former detainees, torture survivors, families of victims, and other witnesses – and examined physical evidence as well as photos and videos. The report specifically describes the apparent war crimes as having been committed in areas that were, at the time, under the control of the Russian Federation military and concluded that they “should be promptly and impartially investigated and appropriately prosecuted.”
Access to water and sanitation. The situation with access to water remains particularly dire in the eastern part of the country, while the possibility of restoring water supplies and bringing in water remains limited. Local authorities in Mariupol (Donetska oblast) recently warned that thousands of people could die there simply as a result of the poor sanitary conditions caused by the war, including weeks of bombardments and encirclement. They report that as many as 170,000 residents remain in the devastated port city, mainly older people, people with disabilities and people who are ill. Mariupol City Council said that conditions are ripe for the outbreak of diseases among an already-weakened population with only limited or no access to water, sanitation, medicine and health care. On 17 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) specifically warned that an outbreak of cholera might occur in Mariupol because of the poor quality of the drinking water there. It was said that NGOs have reported how sewage water can be mixed with drinking water in the city. WHO said that, as a result, it is prepared for the spread of diseases, especially cholera, including by having vaccines ready.
Moreover, local authorities in Luhanska oblast say as electricity was disconnected across most settlements controlled by the Government of Ukraine due to hostilities, a dependable water supply has not been available across the GCA of Luhanska oblast for over a week. The situation with the water supply is also reportedly critical in the NGCA of Donetska oblast, where, according to NGCA sources, remaining water reserves for the largest NGCA city — Donetsk — are sufficient only for 20-25 days. Moreover, according to public sources, the city of Mykolayiv (Mykolaivska oblast) had no drinking water supply for several consecutive days due to water pipeline damage, with constant shelling making repair work challenging. By 9 May, the water supply was reportedly gradually restored to taps but remained unsafe for drinking.
Environmental impacts. Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, in its report as of 12 May, outlines what it describes as the environmental impacts that the war has so far had on the country, including damages to nuclear facilities and the threat of radiation, damages to infrastructure and industrial sites as well as pollution, and damages to natural reserves and protected ecosystems, freshwater resources as well as to the Azov and Black seas. The report explains that the Ukrainian Government is seeking to record, as in other areas, the impacts of the invasion, and specifically on the environment, partly to be able to protect its citizens, strengthen international cooperation and appeal for justice. The Ministry notes, for example, that, on 3 May, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law concerning Ukraine’s accession to the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents as a way to be able to better cooperate internationally in environmental protection.The report also says that remediation work is ongoing at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone(Kyivska oblast) following hostilities and the presence of the military there. It points out that Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (Zaporizka oblast) is now located in an area no longer controlled by the Ukrainian Government. The ministry report also describes how the war, among other impacts, has deprived some 4.6 million Ukrainians across the country of access to safe drinking water and 1.4 million people, particularly in eastern Ukraine, of access to any water supply. Separately, it was reported, including by the governor of Donetska oblast, that shelling on 16 May had caused a massive explosion at a warehouse near Izium in neighbouring Kharkivska oblast – a warehouse housing ammonium-nitrate, typically used in fertilizers and explosives. He added that while the explosion, which produced a huge column of reddish-coloured smoke, did not pose any immediate health risks to residents, an environmental assessment was being carried out.
Food security. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported that at least 400-500 thousand tons of grain worth some US$100 million were seized from farmers in areas of the country that are currently not controlled by the Government of Ukraine. The Ministry said that such actions only contribute to the food insecurity brought on by the war. It further said that, according to unconfirmed reports, the grain is illegally being transported by ship for sale abroad.
Meanwhile, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), before the war, most of the food produced by Ukraine – enough to feed 400 million people – was exported through the country’s seven Black Sea ports. In the eight months before the war began, close to 51 million tons of grain passed through them, WFP says. Recognizing how the closure of Ukraine’s seaports affects food security globally, WFP called for the immediate reopening of Black Sea ports – including Odesa (Odeska oblast, south) – so that critical food from Ukraine can reach people in dire need in countries affected by humanitarian crises.
Impacts on economics. On 17 May, the report Ukraine: Joint Market Monitoring Initiative - April 2022 was published by the REACH Initiative, providing information on price trends and market functionality indicators in Ukraine. The authors explain that, given the mass displacement and humanitarian crisis resulting from the war and further given the prominence of multipurpose cash as a modality for assistance, market monitoring is key to ensuring that humanitarian intervention is effective, sustainable and does not harm local economic systems. Consequently, the Joint Market Monitoring Initiative – conducted in partnership with the Ukraine Cash Working Group – seeks to fill the current information gap by providing timely data on price trends and market functionality indicators. Categories in the report include a range of related topics, including people’s ability to access shops and markets, prices for a typical “food basket,” the functioning of banks and payment methods accepted. More details from the report are provided under the Cluster sections below.
Impacts on LGBTIQ+ people. On 17 May, the Protection Cluster and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) published the report Protection of LGBTIQ+ People in the Context of the Response in Ukraine, focusing on the particular impacts of the war on LGBTIQ+ people, such as in accessing humanitarian assistance. The report notes in part that, even before the start of the military offensive in February, LGBTIQ+ people in Ukraine could be subject to hate speech, discrimination, harassment and abuse. Now, the report continues, they are often at heightened risk of exclusion, exploitation, violence and abuse and encounter distinct protection risks– adding to barriers in accessing humanitarian assistance and services such as safe accommodation, appropriate health care, gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response services, education and livelihoods opportunities. The report concludes in part that it is important that humanitarian actors and service providers understand and address such risks through tailored programmes to ensure LGBTIQ+ people displaced and/or affected by the war in Ukraine enjoy equal rights.
Impacts on humanitarian actors. ODI – Humanitarian Policy Group has published the report Navigating Humanitarian Dilemmas in the Ukraine Crisis, outlining the many wide-ranging challenges humanitarian actors face due to the war and its impacts. Those challenges, the report outlines, range from the shifting and escalating nature of the hostilities around the country, civilian casualties, the massive displacement, increases in commodity prices, food insecurity, the loss of basic services, including energy, and attacks on health care. The report goes on to detail how humanitarian needs and the ability to respond to them vary according to context, including fighting in contested areas of the country, conditions in non-Government-controlled areas, the influx of IDPs into certain areas of Ukraine, and neighbouring countries’ capacity to host millions of refugees.
Displacement. Continued hostilities and deteriorating conditions have continued to fuel displacement across Ukraine while the possibility of organizing evacuations from some of the hardest-hit areas remained limited. Between 11 and 17 May, at least 1,000 people were reported to have been evacuated around the country, including on 14 May, when a convoy of 1,000 vehicles reportedly arrived in Zaporizhzhia (Zaporizka oblast) after having travelled from Mariupol. During the reporting period, there were also reports of continued efforts to evacuate civilians from other parts of Donetska oblast and from Luhanska oblast (east), though they were not always possible because of intense fighting. Between 14 and 17 May, more than 100 people were reportedly evacuated from Luhanska oblast, including over 70 on 17 May. The UN cannot verify the number of evacuated people.
On 16 May, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) published the results of an area baseline assessment conducted between 15 and 30 April of 75 hromadas hosting internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lvivska and Zakarpatska oblasts in western Ukraine to gather initial trends on the number of registered IDPs.The assessment contains information on almost 170,000 arrivals to the two western oblasts, with the majority of people arriving from Donetska, Kyivska and Kharkivska oblasts. IOM explains such assessments support the targeting and provision of humanitarian assistance.
As of 17 May, the estimated number of people displaced by the ongoing war stands at 14.3 million. According to UNHCR, over 6.3 million people have crossed into neighbouring countries to date. The majority of people have crossed into Poland (nearly 3.4 million), followed by Romania (over 930,000 people) and the Russian Federation (over 860,000). Earlier, IOM reported that 8 million people were displaced internally as of 3 May. Separately, the Russian Federation reported that, since 24 February, more than 1.3 million people, including more than 227,000 children, have crossed into its territory. The UN does not have the means to verify the reported number of people who crossed international borders reported by the UN Member States.