This report provides the results of the survey conducted at all five Entry-Exit Checkpoints (EECPs) with the non-government-controlled area (NGCA) in the first half of 2020. Due to quarantine restrictions, the report contains survey data from 1 January to 17 March. The survey is a part of the monitoring of violations of rights of the conflict-affected population within the framework of the project "Advocacy, Protection and Legal Assistance to the Internally Displaced Population of Ukraine" implemented by CF "Right to Protection" (R2P) in partnership with and with financial support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The objective of the survey is to explore the motivations and concerns of the civilians travelling between the non-government-controlled areas (NGCA) and the government-controlled areas (GCA), as well as the conditions and risks associated with crossing the contact line through the EECPs. More statistical data is available on the Eastern Ukraine Checkpoint Monitoring Online Dashboard ‒https://www.unhcr.org/ua/en/eecp-monitoring-2020.
This report is based on a survey of civilians crossing the contact line at the five EECPs. It is noteworthy that the survey results should not be directly extrapolated to the entire population travelling through the checkpoints, but it helps to identify needs, gaps, and trends while providing an evidentiary basis for advocacy efforts. The data collection methodology was the same at all EECPs and was collected from January to 17 March during regular visits to each of the five EECPs on a weekly basis.
The survey was conducted anonymously and with the informed consent of the respondents. All persons interviewed for the survey were informed about its objective. The survey was conducted in the form of personal interviews with people aged 18 and above. R2P monitors surveyed pedestrians queuing at the EECPs waiting to cross the contact line, the survey was not conducted in the vehicle queue or on weekends. R2P monitors approached every fourth person in line with a request to complete the survey. If a person refused to participate, R2P monitors proceeded to survey the next fourth person in line. People travelling both to and from GCA took part in the survey. At no time did R2P monitors cross the zero checkpoints into NGCA. The overall share of respondents travelling in both directions was almost even: 54% of interviews were conducted with people heading to NGCA, 46% of respondents were going to GCA.
With the introduction of quarantine, since 17 to 22 March people could cross only in the direction of their residence registration – NGCA or GCA. On 22 March, EECPs suspended operations, and slightly over 14,000 persons have received permission to cross since then.
On 9 June Ukraine announced the reopening of EECPs in Donetsk oblast on 10 June, after closing them for almost three months. Meanwhile, by the end of June, the other four EECPs remain closed with limited exceptions, since the de facto authorities of NGCA side have banned the crossing of contact line on the NGCA side. However, since the beginning of quarantine there have been several so-called "corridors" at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP (Luhanska oblast) according to pre-agreed lists.
Admission to higher education institutions for students from NGCA has been heavily affected by quarantine restrictions. Over 300 students have been allowed to cross the contact line while about one thousand have applied for passing an External Independent testing (EIT) since 16 June. The recently adopted law seeks to improve the situation: children from NGCA will be able to enroll in Ukrainian universities without passing EIT and have the opportunity to study in all universities.
People who crossed to GCA faced numerous difficulties with installing the app "Act at Home" on their phone. In particular, people with older phones and/or Kyivstar sim-cards were troubled a lot with technical issues. Insufficient Wi-Fi at Novotroitske also complicated the issue. Besides, representatives of State Border Guard Service (SBGS) at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP required that people confirm their place of self-isolation and upload a reference photo directly at the EECP that led to geolocation issues later. People who could not install the app have been placed in an SES tent to resolve those issues the following day, or they have been sent for observation.
In turn, people from Donetsk NGCA are supposed to have residence registration ("propiska") in GCA to be eligible to cross the checkpoint. Also, people are required to sign a document of non-return to the NGCA side until the end of the quarantine there. Additionally, people crossing to NGCA are to be sent for a 2-week observation without any alternative options of self-isolation regime.
The implementation of coronavirus-related quarantine procedures caused a dramatic reduction in crossings. People in NGCA are unable to receive their pensions, social benefits, birth/death certificates, buy drugs, etc. Residents of GCA who left for any personal issues on the NGCA side before the introduction of the quarantine, also cannot return home. Family unity and access to the place of residence or place of treatment are also issues for a number of people.
In the period 1 January to 17 March, 67,134 vulnerable elderly persons were provided with transport support at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP by Proliska's electric vehicle. As of 17 March, transportation services were suspended due to the quarantine measures. Most services suspended their work between 17-20 March at all EECPs: the Coordination Group representatives, INGO medical representatives, and transportation including a social bus at Stanytsia Luhanska. In June, e-vehicle services resumed, the total number of people transported in six months was 69,405.
R2P monitors reported five fatalities that took place on the GCA side in the first half of 2020 and according to information from public sources one fatality on the NGCA side. The preliminary causes of death in most cases were related to heart problems.