Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
Ukraine is the largest country to be located entirely in Europe. Arable land covers more than half of its 603,000 km square. Much of it is humus-rich, high-yielding “black earth”. Despite this natural advantage, Ukraine’s agricultural sector shrank drastically in the early post-Soviet era as the collective farming system collapsed. GDP growth in the new millennium partly offset this decline, but came to a sharp end as the world economy entered crisis in the late 2000s.
Ukraine is now a lower middle income country, ranked 81st out of 188 in the 2015 Human Development Index. Its population has been declining at a rapid rate to an estimated 45.36 million in 2014 – a loss of more than 6 million people since independence in 1991.
Since 2014, open conflict in the east has killed more than 9,000 people and caused renewed hardship and deprivation. The country has lost territory; cities and towns have been devastated; more than a million people have been forced from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of civilians in conflict or former conflict areas have limited access to basic sustenance and services. For the first time in decades, food insecurity has returned to a part of Europe better known as a regional “breadbasket”. As of the first quarter of 2016, Ukraine was the only European country to require and receive assistance from the World Food Programme.
Current issues in Ukraine
In 2014, fighting broke out in the Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The origins of the conflict lie in the anti-government protests of 2013, which led to a change of leadership. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea in April 2014, tensions between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian groups erupted into warfare. The conflict has now largely stabilised, though it has not been resolved. Political tension endures, with continued alleged violations of the Minsk accords reached in 2015 to pacify the area. The remnants of war, such as landmines and other unexploded devices, continue to put civilian lives at risk.
- The humanitarian situation is deteriorating along the “contact line” and in non-government controlled areas. Caught in the crossfire, more than two million people have been forced to leave their homes; most face serious challenges. Families have been displaced for months and exposed to harsh winter conditions. Some are unable to return as their homes have been destroyed or badly damaged.
- 1.5 million people in eastern Ukraine are food insecure, including 290,000 severely so and in need of immediate food assistance. Government support to public services has stopped in some areas; this includes funding to schools and hospitals, as well as the payment of social benefits and pensions.
- Food inflation is among the highest in the world. Many of those who were forced to leave their homes have lost their jobs, and their financial resources are thought to be exhausted.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Ukraine
With no presence in Ukraine before the crisis, WFP now co-operates with other UN agencies to provide gap-filling assistance to the most vulnerable people - those who had to leave their homes, those who are returning to their homes, and those who are still trapped in conflict hotspots.
Since the beginning of the Emergency Operation in November 2014, WFP has assisted some 550,000 people in need: 370,000 beneficiaries through food parcels and 180,000 with cash-based transfers (cash or vouchers) where markets are still functioning well.
From January through June 2016, WFP aims to reach 267,000 people through three rounds of monthly food distribution. In this new phase of the operation, we will continue to provide cash-based transfers or food assistance to the most vulnerable among those affected by conflict.
World Food Programme partners in Ukraine
WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Ukraine:
- ADRA (Adventist and Development Relief Agency)
- Mercy Corps
- People in Need (PIN)
- Save the Children
- Association Internationale de Coopération Médicale
Featured Ukraine publications
A Situation Report is a concise operational document with latest updates on the World Food Programme's (WFP) response to an emergency. It gives an overview of WFP’s activities and informs the wider humanitarian community and other interested stakeholders about WFP’s response.
The Emergency Dashboard provides a visual overview of the most relevant operational information related to WFP’s response in the emergency, including geographical, funding, and performance related information
Looking for more publications on Ukraine? Visit the Ukraine publications archive.