Legal assistance needs assessment: People living along the line of contact - Donetsk Oblast GCA, Ukraine

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People living along the line of contact in the GCA are beset with a host of legal issues affecting their enjoyment of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. The legal assistance needs assessment survey elaborated in this document found that one in every three households along the line of contact has at least one major legal issue in addition to a host of other protection concerns. One in every ten households is implicated by multiple major legal issues. Rights and freedoms compromised due to the existence of these legal issues include right to freedom of movement, right to social benefit, services and pension, right to healthcare services, right to property, right to identity and civil documentation, right to life, physical integrity and dignity, and right to access to justice.

Missing civil documentation remains one of the issues to be immediately addressed. Current perception of lower civil documentation needs is based, among others, on earlier survey findings that only 2% of the IDP/conflict affected have missing passport. That finding did not take into account 5% of those whose passport are legally invalid due to outdated photos, and 4% of those who do not have birth certificate. It also does not include 2% of the people not having a registered place of residence, and a whopping 24% of the population who have not updated their new place of residence. All the above have legal implications for access to justice, enjoyment of freedom of movement, right to social benefit and services, and pension.

The legal right of the civilian victims of the war has remained as one of the most underemphasized area of legal assistance work. While one in every five households along the line of contact has a member who was injured in the war, 98% of them have received no state aid or assistance with regard to the injury.

Another underemphasized area of legal work is legal assistance to the unrelated minors hosted by the inhabitants. The absence of formal guardianship poses serious questions in the ways education, freedom of movement, and personal security of the unattended minors are maintained.

The need for legal and advocacy works surrounding freedom of movement and access to healthcare is further validated by the needs assessment survey. As anticipated, deprivation of social benefit and pension constitute a major load of legal assistance needs to be addressed. In line with the general understanding, the legal complexity surrounding right to property and the right to restitution and compensation is further exposed. The need for a coherent legal assistance approach in resolving property documentation and inheritance issues is widely validated by the assessment. Discrepancies in the figures of damaged and destroyed houses, and the number of damage certificates issued, as well as the unclarity surrounding legal mechanism for restitution and compensation point towards the need for a comprehensive institutional solution to the HLP restitution and compensation claims of the people.