Caroline Dewast & Vidar Glette
In November 2013, the Government of Ukraine (GoU) decided to abandon an agreement that would strengthen its ties with the EU, sparking large-scale protests. In March 2014, a conflict erupted with Russia’s unilateral annexation of Crimea, leading to a first wave of population
displacement. A second wave of displacement followed shortly after, as a consequence of separatist offensives in the Donbas region. A ceasefire agreement (Minsk I) was reached in September 2014. However, clashes erupted again in early 2015, causing a third wave of displacement. A second ceasefire agreement (Minsk II) was signed in February 2015.
Ongoing ceasefire violations, heavy shelling and armed conflict have displaced 1.5 million people, creating fluctuating population movements including secondary displacement, commuting across the contact line, and returns. The influx has placed a strain on host communities, especially in areas with a high ratio of internally displaced people(IDPs) compared to the local population.
Activation of the Shelter Cluster
In July 2014, UNHCR activated a shelter sector and started developing a sectoral strategy, anticipating its’ leadership responsibility for the Shelter Cluster(SC). The Regional Focal Point (RFP) to the Global Shelter Cluster (GSC) was deployed to Ukraine in September 2014. A month later his contract with GSC ended and he was recruited by UNHCR to lead the shelter sector, prior to the formal activation of the cluster system. He later became the Shelter Cluster Coordinator(CC) and has remained the CC to date.
The cluster system was activated on 23rd December 2014 with UNHCR as lead agency (CLA) for the Ukraine SC, in partnership with the Ministry of Regional Development and Housing (MoRD) and Ministry of Social Policy (MoSP). A sub-national SC was activated in July 2015, based in Sloviansk and led by People in Need. Many informants recognised the advantage of having an international non-governmental organisation (INGO) as co-chair of the SC.