Only over the past few days, three of the IRC programme locations came under shelling. The staff were forced to temporarily suspend essential humanitarian work in the Kharkiv region, Dnipro and Kherson, putting the winter distributions, mobile health services and protection services on hold. Mounting civilian casualties and frequent disruptions in the delivery of life-saving aid are a testimony to the costs ordinary Ukrainians continue to pay for the war.
Michael Despines, the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Regional Director for the Ukraine Crisis, said: “Constant attacks on civilian infrastructure and population centres are a serious violation of international humanitarian law and limit our ability to deliver essential humanitarian assistance to people in dire need of support amid cold winter months. Our teams are reporting on challenges they face while delivering critical humanitarian aid in newly accessible areas. Due to the volatile security situation and frequent shelling in Kherson, our staff have limited access to clients who battle to heat their homes and secure basic winter necessities such as blankets and warm clothes. People in Kherson tell us they are living in constant fear, as they struggle to keep their families safe”.
Millions of displaced people have eventually returned to Ukraine despite ongoing fighting, but active conflict and the risk of missile strikes outside conflict zones prevented many from returning to their homes – leaving them among the 5.9 million people internally displaced. As long as the war persists, any escalations are likely to fuel additional displacements within Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
In Ukraine, the laws of war are being eroded with impunity. The world does not need new rules or laws, but a renewed commitment to implement existing ones. Perpetrators of violations must be held to account. To rebuild their lives, Ukrainians need an end to violence against civilians and the re-establishment of the right to aid across the country.