COVID-19 exacerbates vulnerabilities and hampers humanitarian operations in eastern Ukraine as USG partners respond to the outbreak
Contact line crossings decrease nearly 40 percent due to mid-March EECP closures
Armed clashes result in nearly 20 civilian casualties in March, more than triple February’s total
As the number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to rise across Ukraine, containment measures—including border closures and movement restrictions—imposed by the Government of Ukraine (GoU) and self-proclaimed authorities in non-government-controlled areas (NGCAs) have hindered relief operations for conflict-affected populations, the UN reports. As of mid-April, self-proclaimed NGCA authorities had restricted the movement of some humanitarian personnel and supplies into NGCAs, while broader COVID-19-related movement prohibitions had limited access to essential services for residents in Donetsk and Luhansk oblast government-controlled-areas (GCAs) and NGCAs. To date, only two UN-managed humanitarian convoys have reached Donetsk NGCA and no convoys had reached Luhansk NGCA since March, the UN reports.
During March, humanitarian monitors recorded 593,000 contact line crossings—a nearly 40 percent decrease compared to the number of crossings in February—due to the midMarch closure of all entry–exit checkpoints (EECPs) connecting GCAs and NGCAs, the UN reports. The closure resulted in more than 300,000 NGCA residents losing access to critical GoU pensions, as well as access to some basic services and social benefits, according to the UN.
Despite restrictions, U.S. Government (USG) partners are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in eastern Ukraine. With USAID/OFDA support, one partner is operating a COVID-19 hotline and providing COVID-19-related technical assistance to local authorities in Donetsk GCA, as well as distributing disease informational materials in Donetsk and Luhansk GCA. In addition, State/PRM partner the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has mobilized existing community support activities to produce and distribute personal protective equipment to local populations and health facilities in GCAs.