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Today, Ukraine is a country firmly at the centre of global consciousness. Located at the very heart of Europe (figure 1), Ukraine boasts a rich tapestry of culture and a history spanning thousands of years; the largest national flag, in Kyiv, is shown in figure 2. Yet Ukrainian people find themselves having to, once again, defend their national identity, liberty and sovereignty—at a tremendous cost.
Russia’s unprovoked aggression, initiated in 2014 with the occupation of Crimea and parts of the Donbass region, escalated into an all-out war in February 2022. The war has starkly divided the lives of Ukrainians into the ‘before’ and ‘after’ (figures 3–6). In the span of 500 days since the invasion on 24 February, the human cost, as documented by the United Nations (UN), has been stark: 9083 dead and 15 779 people wounded,1 including 535 children lost and 1047 injured.2 These already devastating figures likely considerably understate the full extent of the human toll: the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other observers believe the actual numbers are much higher, as acquiring precise data from the conflict-afflicted and occupied regions remains a daunting task. Further, destruction of infrastructure and population displacement have resulted in the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Russian invasion has led to the destruction of 143 800 Ukrainian homes, leaving 2.4 million people homeless. Seven million people have been internally displaced, while over 5 million have sought refuge abroad, primarily in Europe. These factors are expected to result in long-term socioeconomic and public health impact.3
Contributors LP conceived the concept and wrote the first draft. SB provided data input. Both authors reviewed and critically appraised the manuscript.
Funding LP is supported in her work at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology and National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, by a CARA-UCL Academic Sanctuary Fellowship.
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Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Colin Mumford, Edinburgh, UK, and David Breen, Edinburgh, UK.