Ukraine UNHCR Operational Update, 1-31 March 2017 [EN/AR]

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 31 Mar 2017 View Original
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KEY FIGURES

26,000 people
Reached through Shelter/NFI assistance from UNHCR and partners in 2017
7,500 people
received legal assistance from UNHCR partners in 2017
5,653 households
received coal or winter clothing through UNHCR’s 2016/2017 winterization programme

FUNDING

USD 37.7 million
required for 2017

PRIORITIES

  • Leading the Protection and Shelter/NFI Clusters
  • Supporting the Government of Ukraine on IDP and refugee/asylum issues
  • Advocacy on freedom of movement, humanitarian access, and other concerns
  • Provision of humanitarian assistance, especially near the line of contact and in the non- government controlled areas

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Situational overview: During the reporting period, the security situation deteriorated. The situation remains volatile and tense.
  • Protection concerns: UNHCR continued to advocate for improvements to draft law 3593-d “On the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine” in the areas of human rights protection, freedom of movement and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
  • Legislation update: The Cabinet of Ministers adopted a resolution on the transport of goods to the non-government controlled areas.
  • Assistance provided: In March, UNHCR provided non-food items (NFIs) and emergency shelter assistance to more than 10,200 people. UNHCR and its partners provided over 9,000 consultations to IDPs and other people of concern.

UPDATE ON ACHIEVEMENTS

Operational Context

In early March the security situation in eastern Ukraine deteriorated, including a marked increase in the number of ceasefire violations. The end of the month saw the second highest use of weapons prohibited by the addendum to the Minsk Package of Measures since it was introduced in October 2015. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) reported the majority of ceasefire violations in areas near Svitlodarsk, Mariupol, and the area of Avdiivka, Yasynuvata, Donetsk airport and Horlivka, as well as in western Luhansk region. Numerous civilian fatalities were reported in the conflict area caused by the shelling of populated areas and the presence of explosive remnants of war and landmines. Utility supplies have been disrupted in areas near the line of contact, particularly in and around Avdiivka. Repairs are made difficult by ongoing shelling in the area. The humanitarian situation remains precarious and access of humanitarian agencies to persons of concern remains difficult due to restrictions on activity in the non-government controlled areas imposed on all UN humanitarian agencies. UNHCR’s “registration” with de facto authorities in Donetsk remains on hold. UNHCR continues to implement activities through local partner NGOs. UNOCHA’s Humanitarian Snapshot provides an overview of the humanitarian situation. UNHCR remains concerned for the conditions faced by civilians crossing the line of contact between government- controlled and non-government controlled areas. Residents of government-controlled areas near the line of contact face restricted freedom of movement, even if not crossing the line of contact, due to the presence of internal checkpoints. In March, UNHCR continued to provide equipment to government-controlled checkpoints with the aim of expediting processing times and reducing waiting times for civilians waiting to cross. Since 1 March, checkpoints on the line of contact have extended their opening times, now operating from 0700 to 1830. The increased operating hours should alleviate waiting times and the exposure of civilians to risk from the conflict and adverse weather. On 1 March, a Cabinet of Minister’s resolution on the transfer of goods to and from the non-government controlled areas was adopted. Nonetheless, it was announced that unauthorized trade blockades of the non-government controlled areas would be extended to include rail crossings with the Russian Federation. The political situation further deteriorated, with de facto authorities transferring some 40 companies in the non-government controlled areas to “external management”. In mid-March, Ukrainian authorities moved to break up the unauthorized trade blockade between government and non- government controlled areas leading to small protests in several cities. Access of IDPs and those remaining in non-government controlled areas to pensions and social assistance is a persistent concern. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has extended the deadline for IDP pensioners to appear in person at branches of the state-owned Oschadbank until 1 May. Despite the extension, and due to lack of information, the number of persons crossing the line of contact to report to the bank has significantly increased. The verification process for immobile IDP pensioners remains an issue. Oschadbank does not have instructions on how to deal with such cases. At present, relatives of immobile IDP pensioners submit applications to Oschadbank on their behalf, while others call Oschadbank’s telephone hotline. Some bank staff visit IDP pensioners at home in an unofficial capacity. IDP pensioners who have a bankcard with a photo must be verified every six months; those with bankcards without a photo must be verified every three months. The cards of unverified pensioners will be blocked, although no procedures on unblocking suspended bankcards have been developed. Long queues of pensioners at Oschadbank branches have been observed. UNHCR has established contact with Oshchadbank focal points in to raise some of the main concerns of IDPs.