Birth and death registration for residents of non-government controlled areas of eastern Ukraine - Briefing Note, June 2018
Civil documentation remains one of the most pressing issues for people living in non- government controlled areas (NGCA) of eastern Ukraine. Discriminatory practices in accessing birth and death certificates for people living in NGCA within Ukraine has been an issue of concern for the international community and civil society since the beginning of the armed conflict. Newly adopted Law No. 2268 provides a window of opportunity for simplifying the current civil registration procedure for residents of NGCA by allowing equal and effective access to civil status documents regardless of their place of residence.
In April of 2018, the conflict in eastern Ukraine entered its fifth year. Although the ceasefire agreement (Minsk-II) of early 2015 remains formally in place and negotiations are ongoing (Minsk-process), localised hostilities continue along the contact line, which divides the territory into two parts, lands controlled by the Government of Ukraine and those by the authorities in NGCA. The armed conflict has caused thousands of casualties, the displacement of millions of people, and extensive destruction to houses and infrastructure. With no immediate end in sight, the conflict continues to disrupt and mire the daily lives of millions of people on both sides of the contact line, deepening their dependence on external aid, and flattening hopes for a normal life.
The humanitarian community estimates that 3.4 million people are in need of relief assistance, more than a half of whom live in NGCA.
From 1 December 2014, Ukrainian state authorities officially ceased to exercise their powers and provide services in NGCA. The documents issued by the authorities in NGCA are not recognised by the Ukrainian authorities. NGCA residents wishing to replace their lost, damaged or expired civil documents have to take costly, humiliating and perilous journeys across one of the five entry-exit checkpoints along the 500 km-long contact line with a special permit system. The documents in question range from Ukrainian identity cards, birth and death certificates, those confirming old-age or disability pensions and social benefits, as well as property and inheritance records.