Humanitarian Bulletin: Ukraine | Issue 20 | 1 – 31 July 2017
Evolving security environment increases needs
Water supply interruptions become a new normal
Winter looms, as key clusters advance in winterization plans
Protection concerns are widespread, impacting the most vulnerable
Underfunding may further degrade situation of millions of people depending on aid
Fighting lingers despite renewed ceasefire
The 21 June ceasefire agreements to allow safe harvesting may have lowered the overall intensity of fighting. However, sporadic clashes are taking place in all areas of critical concern. The areas witnessing clashes have remained relatively unchanged. For local population living along the ‘contact line’, where fighting is most intense, damage and insecurity become inescapable part of their daily lives. Their lives trapped in the midst of such clashes hang in the balance, while continuous acute needs across critical sectors rise. Against this background, ongoing insecurity also represents a serious challenge for humanitarian and development partners to transcend towards recovery and resilience building.
Of concern is damage continuously reported to or near the critical power and water supply systems, often resulting in disruption of supply to millions. Since the beginning of 2017, the Donetsk Filter Station (DFS), which supplies water to more than 345,000 people on both sides of the ‘contact line’ stopped functioning 13 times. The time taken for repair teams to restore supply often lasts more than 24 hours or sometimes a week, hampering people’s access to safe water. Other infrastructure, such as the pumping stations, water treatment plants and power lines continue to be affected. According to the WASH Cluster, in July alone, water supply systems have stopped functioning on 11 occasions, limiting access to water for millions on both sides of the ‘contact line’. The simmering hot season, coupled with continuous trend of water disruptions and shortages increases not only WASH needs, but also the risks of potential deterioration of public health conditions. On 19 July, during the regular Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) meeting in Minsk, parties to the conflict have expressed willingness to establish socalled safety zones around key water infrastructure, including the DFS. While this is a welcome initiative, concerns as to the full adherence to these arrangements persist, as at least two incidents of shelling were recorded later, impacting DFS and the 1st lift Pumping Station (PS) of the South Donbas Water Pipeline, on 22 and 28 July respectively.
Increase in needs undermine coping capacities of people affected
The preliminary findings of the Food Security Assessment (FSA) conducted by the Food Security and Livelihood Cluster (FSLC) as of June 2017 indicate that as many as 26 per cent (increase from 13 per cent) or 800,000 people in non-Government controlled areas (NGCA) could be severely and moderately food insecure, while some 5 per cent (increase from 1.7 per cent) or 150,000 people are estimated to be severely food insecure. The highest levels of food insecurity is recorded in Donetsk province (NGCA). Meanwhile, initial analysis of FSA data also suggests a deterioration of food insecurity levels in Government controlled areas (GCA), increasing from 7 to 15 per cent in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
Needs have risen in other critical sectors as well. The Education Cluster partners reported that some 648,000 students and teachers in more than 3,400 educational facilities suffer from widespread and cumulative impact of the conflict. According to the Shelter/NFI Cluster, due to strained coping mechanisms in GCA, the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) involuntarily returning to areas along the ‘contact line’ has increased, and an estimated 9,326 households could require extra assistance to afford basic winterization items. Critical life-saving needs remain in NGCA, as many communities lack access to gas supply, which initially powered them through the winter. Furthermore, the cluster reported that the intensification of shelling in May and June has resulted in damage to some 200 utility repair and assistance with network connection.