Four years into the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the need of the most vulnerable conflict-affected people for permanent and durable shelter solutions is becoming more and more acute. Ukraine has yet to take steps to assess and provide compensation for conflict-related damages to housing, land and property. Many people cannot even access humanitarian assistance since they lack title documents. The government should eliminate barriers to obtain property documentation for the conflict-affected population.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has resulted in thousands of casualties, the displacement of millions of people and significant destruction of civilian property and communal infrastructure. Although there is no official data on the rate of destruction, according to the data of the humanitarian community in Ukraine, 1, some 21,500 households in GCA (and an estimated 20,000 households in NGCA) have been damaged or destroyed in the course of the hostilities, of which 56 per cent of homes incurred light damages, 27 per cent of homes incurred medium, 14 per cent heavy damages, and three per cent incurred full destruction. 2 Between March and August 2017, a flare up in hostilities caused new damage to over 700 homes.The response of the humanitarian actors through structural repairs, access to permanent housing (including reconstruction), and essential utility network repairs/reconstruction remains meagre (eg only 721 households received assistance with heavy repairs in 2016 and first half of 2017).Although humanitarian actors are able to provide more assistance, they cannot start construction activities if potential beneficiaries lack proper title documents.
The DRC assessment of legal needs along the contact-line in government controlled areas of Donetsk oblast showed that at least 14 per cent of the people owning residential property do not have a title document to prove their ownership; a further 83 per cent of people who have inherited property since the beginning of the conflict have no documentation for legal possession.5 Moreover, 30 per cent of the owners of single family houses in rural areas did not take the steps to privatise their land, even though they hold a document proving privatisation of the housing structure on it.6 An NRC shelter/ICLA needs assessment in November 2017 revealed that 69 out of 202 of the most vulnerable families in need of assistance with heavy repairs or reconstruction in Novoaidar, Popasna and Stanytsia-Luhanska districts of the government controlled areas of Luhansk oblast, do not have property title documents.
The payment of up to UAH 10,000 for restoring or obtaining property documents is an expense that an average family living in a damaged property in conflict-affected areas simply cannot afford, especially with increased levels of unemployment and poverty, with an average monthly income of UAH 2,077 per household along the contact line7 and with the actual minimum subsistence level as high as UAH 3,035. 8 In the absence of any State mechanism for assessment and compensation for damages to housing, land and property,9 these people have been deprived of an opportunity to access repair/reconstruction assistance by humanitarian actors because they cannot show documents proving their property rights.