OCHA Ukraine Situation Report, 2 October 2020 [EN/RU/UK]

Situation Report
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HIGHLIGHTS (2 Oct 2020)

  • As of 2 October 2020, there are 217,661 people confirmed to have COVID-19 in Government-controlled areas of Ukraine, including 4,790 cases in eastern Ukraine.

  • There are reportedly 4,670 confirmed COVID-19 cases in areas beyond Government control, including 247 deaths.

  • Operation of crossing points in eastern Ukraine lacks a coordinated, systematic approach.

  • Since the start of the conflict in 2014, the fundamental human right to education of children in eastern Ukraine has been under threat.

Operation of crossing points in eastern Ukraine lacks a coordinated, systematic approach

On 21 March 2020, all entry/exit crossing points (EECPs) along the 427-kilometer ‘contact line’ in eastern Ukraine were closed in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. Before the closure, people living in both Government and non-Government controlled areas (GCA and NGCA) crossed the ‘contact line’ an average of 1.2 million times each month to reach social and administrative services, visit banks, access health care and education, withdraw pensions, and to visit family and loved ones. During the summer, the rates were even higher, averaging 1.3 million crossings per month. Half a year after the introduction of COVID-19-related quarantine measures, most EECPs remain closed, with only two of the five official crossing points allowing people to cross the ‘contact line’ (EECP ‘Stanytsia Luhanska’ in Luhanska oblast and EECP ‘Novotroitske’ in Donetska oblast).

Since the closure in March, there has been a gradual easing of quarantine restrictions and adoption of procedures to allow humanitarian exemptions to permit people with acute needs to cross, leading to an increase in the number of civilian crossings of the ‘contact line’. In August, almost 84,000 people were able to cross compared to 37,700 in July and 17,700 in June. While the number of crossings in August is the highest since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions, it represents only 7 per cent of the 1.3 million crossings during August 2019.
NGCA-imposed measures concerning crossing the ‘contact line’

To a large extent, crossings to both GCA and NGCA have been limited to those who have been granted humanitarian exemptions advocated for by the humanitarian community. These exemptions include the death or illness of a close relative, as well as severe or chronic illness requiring urgent medical intervention. In addition to those receiving humanitarian exemptions for crossing, people who have official residency in any oblast on either side of the ‘contact line’ are permitted to return to their place of official residency. People are permitted to cross to NGCA if they have been included on lists pre-approved by NGCA entities in control. All people crossing are subject to two weeks of either self-quarantine or observation in a health facility upon arrival. NGCA of Luhanska and Donetska oblasts have different approaches to including people on pre-approved lists.

In Luhanska oblast (NGCA), permanent residents may enter the territory by showing relevant documents that confirm their residency status. People without permanent residency may enter if they have humanitarian reasons that fall within approved criteria and have been included in a pre-approved list. In order to be included in such a list for crossing, people must contact a responsible entity in Luhanska oblast (NGCA) by phone or e-mail. It usually takes up to two weeks for the request to be processed. As of 25 September, people with residency in NGCA of Luhanska oblast are limited to just one crossing per month.

In Donetska oblast (NGCA), only people included on pre-approved lists based on humanitarian exemptions are allowed to enter. Reportedly it can take up to a month to be included on the list by a responsible entity in Donetska oblast (NGCA) despite having humanitarian reasons for crossing. Furthermore, only people with a permanent residency in GCA are permitted to leave Donetska oblast (NGCA). Reportedly, those who cross to GCA are required to sign a document declaring that they will not return to NGCA of Donetska oblast until the official quarantine period ends. Until mid-September, all those crossing to Donetska oblast (NGCA) were required to complete their mandatory 14-day self-quarantine/observation in a designated facility. Now, people crossing to Donetska oblast (NGCA) can take a COVID-19 express test and, subject to negative results, can self-quarantine at the place of residence/stay. The discrepancies in the approaches of two NGCAs and the difference in crossing points’ operations (twice a week in Donetska oblast and every day in Luhanska oblast) have resulted in a striking difference in the number of crossings between the two oblasts. In August 2020, 96 per cent of all crossings of the ‘contact line’ took place in Luhanska oblast (80,600).

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