Lack of funding and access has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to leave the country after helping more than 1 million conflict-affected people over the past four years.

A violent armed conflict has been raging in eastern Ukraine for four years now. It has resulted in 4.4 million people needing humanitarian assistance, and left 1.6 million people displaced away from their homes. It brought suffering and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living on both sides of the conflict line, WFP Insight wrote.

According to a food security assessment issued in September 2017, the number of food insecure people in conflict-affected eastern Ukraine had doubled from the time the conflict erupted.

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However, lack of both funding and access forced WFP to end its operation in Ukraine by mid-year. WFP assisted 13,000 people through the winter months, until February 2018.

From August 2014 to February 2018, WFP provided food assistance to more than 1 million people among the most vulnerable and food insecure in conflict-affected Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, delivering food parcels, issuing food vouchers or making cash-based transfers. WFP also injected over US$60 million into the local economy through local purchases and food vouchers.

In those four years, WFP touched many lives across the country and those lives touched us too. WFP will continue to monitor the food security situation in the country while other humanitarian actors will take over assisting the most vulnerable.

Over the four years of WFP's operation in Ukraine, it ran resilience programmes aimed at enhancing local livelihoods, increasing income, and rehabilitating productive assets. This included the rehabilitation of greenhouses and restoration of fruit gardens and water pipes.

These projects are the first signs of normality in the lives of rural communities in conflict-affected areas.

Most of the participants engaged in Food For Training and Food Assistance For Assets activities were families headed by women with children  - some of the most vulnerable among the food-insecure population.

Women and men engaged in resilience programmes received monthly cash stipends. This way, they can learn a new profession or participate in the rehabilitation of the assets to the benefit of the whole community.