An older white man wearing a blue shirt navy coat and black beanie stands in front of a charred building. The windows are blown out and a Ukraine flag flies behind him

Preparing civilians for active conflict

Humanity & Inclusion is working with communities in Ukraine to help them adopt conflict preparedness behaviors before, during and after armed attacks.

“Air strikes, missile attacks and artillery bombardments in densely populated areas continue to damage and destroy urban centers, residential buildings, schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure,” says Perrine Benoist, Humanity & Inclusion’s technical director of armed violence reduction.

As populations continue to be exposed to armed attacks in the ongoing conflict, Humanity & Inclusion will implement a dual approach of explosive ordnance risk education in Ukraine, including conflict preparedness and protection initiatives.

Conflict Preparedness and Protection

“When people typically think of explosive ordnance risk education, the focus is usually after a conflict: we show people what explosive ordnance look like, and teach them how to be careful around them,” says Celine Cheng, Humanity & Inclusion’s explosive ordnance risk education specialist. “But, what we want to do in Ukraine is include conflict preparedness and protection, which teaches populations what to do before, during and after an eventual armed attack.”

To prepare for conflict situations before they occur, communities are taught how to create and identify a safe room—on a lower level, away from windows, away from external walls—to hide in case of attack and how to prepare “hibernation kits” with sufficient food, water, medicine and hygiene supplies. They are also taught about the importance of preparing a “grab bag”—a small backpack of essential items such as cash, first aid supplies, legal documents, water, food, a flashlight and a charged phone, in case of an emergency evacuation. 

“At Humanity & Inclusion, we also have an added value of helping secure people with disabilities who might be in a household during a conflict,” Cheng continues. “What do you do if there’s a person with a disability who can’t go down to the bunker? What to do if there is no bunker? What are the best evacuation procedures? We make sure people have these answers.”

In addition to preparations before a conflict situation, families are informed of how to quickly recognize the signs of an attack, where to take cover, and how to protect their bodies from the impact of a blast.

“If people are in a building when an attack occurs, they should move away from windows, doors and anything hanging on the walls. They can take immediate cover under a sturdy piece of furniture and lie face-down, flat on the ground, covering their eyes and ears, keeping their mouth open to prevent internal damage from blast pressure.”

Finally, they are taught to recognize when the area is safe again, and what to do in the aftermath of conflict.

Preparing at-risk communities

Humanity & Inclusion’s implementation of risk education, conflict preparedness and protection initiatives in Ukraine include:

  • Deployment of risk education teams in Chernivtsi, and Dnipro
  • Providing community-level risk education sessions in schools, community centers, etc.
  • Distributing printed education materials such as brochures, posters and pamphlets on hazard identification, safe behaviors and conflict preparation tips
  • Providing risk education trainings to humanitarian actors and community focal points, including first responders, volunteers and metro workers
  • Launching media and remote campaigns to share information digitally to isolated and insecure areas

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