© Misha Friedman


The conflict in eastern Ukraine has left a devastating psychological toll on ordinary people

As the "frozen war" in eastern Ukraine continues, those living along the frontline bear the brunt of its impact.

Europe's second largest country, Ukraine – home to around 44 million people – is a land of wide, fertile agricultural plains, with large pockets of heavy industry in the east.

Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has since veered between seeking closer integration with Western Europe or being drawn into the orbit of Russia.

In late 2013, political protests erupted as the Ukrainian government backed away from an association agreement with the EU. Violent clashes between protesters and police in the capital Kiev were broadcast around the world.

In February 2014, Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych was then ousted from power. Violent chaos followed, and, by May of that year, tensions between Western-leaning Kiev and Russian-backed separatists plunged the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk - collectively known as "Donbass" - into war.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first began working in the country in 1999, and is currently responding to the ongoing "frozen war" and its lasting psychological effects

MSF continues to run mobile clinics along the frontline and has increased mental health support for people living in areas controlled by the Ukrainian government, or who have been displaced by the fighting.

While our psychologists treat patients in the southern part of the conflict zone, we also work to ensure the continuity of care for people suffering from chronic diseases - such as diabetes and hypertension - in areas where the war has interrupted their access to medical services.

MSF continues to support and treat prisoners with drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in pre-detention centres at Mariupol and Bakhmut and in the penal colony in Dnipro. This includes providing psychosocial assistance to patients going through the long and arduous treatment required.

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