Сonflict-affected Ukrainians struggle through a fourth winter of uncertainty [EN/UK]

from Norwegian Refugee Council
Published on 10 Jan 2018

For a fourth year, thousands of civilians along the frontlines in eastern Ukraine face not only continued hostilities, but also shortages of many of lifeˈs basic necessities. Their situation has become worse during the current winter months.

600,000 women, men and children living within five kilometres on both sides of the frontline are among the most vulnerable affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Many lack access to adequate food, job opportunities and vital social services. The worsening socio-economic situation has doubled food insecurity, with some 1.2 million people now reported to be food insecure. Increasing vulnerability, livelihood erosion and shortage of resources are common among households located close to the frontline. Many lack adequate food to meet their basic needs at the height of winter, while scarce resources must often be used to pay for the high cost of utilities in order to stay warm.

“Eastern Ukraine has a long winter, which can often be quite severe. Access to food and heating is an overwhelming problem for many frontline residents, especially for elderly or people with disabilities. Many of them do not have money or access to markets to buy food or fuel due to continued hostilities,” said Christopher Mehley, Country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Ukraine.

Many of the villages located on the frontline have no gas supply. These residents rely on solid fuels – like wood and coal – to survive sub-zero temperatures in the winter months. “Over the past four years, these civilians have had to worry about how to survive every winter,” said Mehley.
During the winter of 2017/2018, NRC will provide an estimated 24,000 conflict-affected people across Luhansk region with critical assistance to meet basic needs thanks to the generous support of Norway, the UN World Food Programme and the Vaticanˈs “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative.

“One ton of coal costs four times more than my monthly pension. For the winter, I need three tons of coal. I cannot afford it. Without the firewood we received this year, we would have suffered very hard times. We canˈt even go to the forest to gather wood because of mines,” said Yurii, a resident of Druzhba village, six kilometres from the frontline. Temperatures can drop to minus 20 in this part of Ukraine.

Out of ten the worldˈs most neglected displacement crises, Ukraine is the only one which experiences a winter season. Since 2014, NRC has been assisting civilians affected by the conflict during the winter months by providing solid fuel, heaters, clothes and blankets. In 2018, an estimated 4.4 million people continue to be affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, of whom 3.4 million require humanitarian assistance and protection.
NRCˈs response:

  • NRC has responded to winter needs of conflict-affected people in Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, since autumn 2014.

  • During the winter season, NRC assists internally displaced people, single-headed families, elderly, low-income households and other vulnerable individuals across Luhansk region with shelter assistance, fuel, hygiene items, blankets, clothes and cash aid.

  • Since the start of the 2017/2018 winter season, 8,770 people have already received assistance with house repairs, hygiene items and fuel. 1,306 families have each received six cubic metres of firewood or a cash grant for solid fuel.

  • 5,000 civilians will receive cash for the purchase of food.

  • 2,100 families will receive winterization cash grants for the purchase of heating fuel.

  • 300 families will receive materials for insulating their houses.

  • 52 schools, kindergartens, hospitals, orphanages and centres for the elderly will receive coal, wood, heaters, blankets and clothes; some 4,400 children and adults will be assisted through these distributions over the next three months Note to editors:

  • NRC has spokespersons in Ukraine

  • Photos are available to use here: Winter in eastern Ukraine For more information, please contact:

  • In Ukraine: Tatiana Stepykina: Tatiana.Stepykina@nrc.no +38 050 468 4555; +38 067 828 5827

  • Global: Media hotline, info@nrc.no, +47 905 62329