OVERVIEW OF THE CRISIS
Two years into the conflict, affected women, girls, boys and men of all ages are struggling to cope. The cumulative impact of psychological trauma, the disruption to education, the daily risk of injury due to insecurity, landmines or other explosive remnants of war, inadequate shelter, inability to work, and limitations of freedom of movement all result in a high level of humanitarian and protection needs.
Ongoing conflict fuels needs
The armed conflict that started in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 intensified in early 2015 resulting in further civilian casualties, extensive suffering and significant displacement in both rural and significantly densely populated urban areas. Even with the 12 February 2015 ‘Full Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements’, sporadic fighting continues in several locations along the ‘contact line’ between Government forces and armed groups. Despite the spike in fighting, the September 2015 renewed ceasefire agreed by parties to the conflict has largely held resulting in a significant reduction in fighting, bringing partial relief for people who had hitherto been living under the constant fear of bombardment. Nonetheless, the conflict is yet to be resolved and continues to have a disproportionate impact on civilians. Humanitarian partners estimate that, as of October 2015, at least 3.7 million people have been affected in Ukraine both directly and indirectly, 3.1 million of whom require humanitarian assistance. The reduced number of people in need of humanitarian assistance compared to the 2015 HRP is a result of a more accurate reflection of assessments and population data analysis.
Needs most acute along the ‘contact line’
The humanitarian community is particularly concerned about those 800,000 people living along the ‘contact line’, of whom 200,000 are in Government controlled areas (GCAs), the rest in non-government controlled areas (NGCAs). Civilians in this area are most directly affected by the conflict with insecurity, severe movement constraints, loss of livelihoods, absence of rule of law, protection concerns and very limited access to basic services all part of their day-to-day life.
The needs of some 2.1 million people living in NGCAs are similarly difficult, albeit without the physical risk of living under bombardment. However, Ukrainian Government policy means all civilians in NGCAs have seen their freedom of movement, access to basic services and commercial goods, right to social benefits and pensions, postal, financial and notary services severely curtailed since November 2014. These policies continue to augment the already acute humanitarian situation and undermine resiliency. Needs in Government controlled areas are understandably less severe, but do still exist, particularly for IDPs and host communities, who until now have laudably been the main providers of humanitarian assistance. A robust recovery framework needs to be put in place to ensure many of the conflict-affected people do not become of humanitarian concern. There is also a high fluidity of movement of people crossing the ‘contact line’ at considerable risk to access basic services and pensions, a group with its own specific set of protection needs which must be addressed.
Government imposed bureaucratic impediments increase needs
For there to be a real reduction in humanitarian need in 2016, it is critical that parties to the conflict guarantee the free and unimpeded access of the UN and NGOs to all affected people.
Most importantly, the Government of Ukraine must remove all bureacratic impediments to humanitarian action, and guarantee the freedom of movement of civilians and goods throughout the country. The ongoing ban on all commercial cargo across the ‘contact line’ and other government-imposed bureacratic impediments augments the humanitarian crisis. In addition, the UN has been severely restricted from operating in non-government controlled areas of Luhanska and Donetska oblasts since 21 July 2015, because of the de facto authorities’ insistence that both UN agencies and INGOs seek formal registration in order to continue operating, with most INGO operations suspended since August 2015. While authorisation has been negotiated for UN agencies in NGCAs of Luhanska oblast, and despite ongoing intensive advocacy at all levels, the suspension remains in NGCAs of Donetska oblast. Protection activities remain particularly difficult in both.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.