As COVID-19 quarantine measures on both sides of the ‘contact line’ are gradually being eased, three out of the five official crossing points partially re-opened in June. However, only two allow crossings in both directions, while one remains operational on one-side only (from GCA to NGCA). While June saw the highest number of crossings across the ‘contact line’ since its closure in mid-March, the people who crossed are subject to self-isolation or observation in a health facility for 14 days1 , meaning the vast majority who seek to cross for just a few hours to receive pensions or access services are unable to do so. Uncoordinated and unrealistic measures applied by both sides continue to hamper civilian crossings. Meanwhile, humanitarian services provided by humanitarian actors at the entry/exit crossing points (EECPs) have resumed.
Civilians repeatedly became stranded in the ‘grey zone’ due to discrepancies in crossing procedures, requirements to have a smartphone to install the mandatory contact-tracing mobile application “Diy vDoma”, or due to the lack of internet connectivity. The first such incident was reported on 22 June with civilians stranded overnight. To date some 60 people have been caught in such situations – some of them had to spend several nights in an insecure environment with humanitarian partners and border guards providing food, water, and shelter.
Over 50 per cent of students from NGCA who had registered for final national exams in GCA were not able to cross the ‘contact line’, despite being exempted from the 14-day quarantine requirement. To improve access to education for NGCA students, the President of Ukraine signed a law allowing their enrolment in all Ukrainian universities without taking part in the final national examination. Over 1,000 NGCA students usually register for these exams.
Humanitarian cargo to Luhanska oblast (NGCA) was allowed through the EECP ‘Stanytsia Luhanska’ for the first time since the beginning of the conflict. The humanitarian cargo destined to Luhanska oblast (NGCA) usually had to transit through Donetska oblast (NGCA), which is no longer possible due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, the capacity of the EECP is limited and does not allow transportation by trucks. Relief items have to be hand-carried across the pedestrian crossing bridge only.
Movements of humanitarian actors across the ‘contact line’ in both directions are now permitted on an ad hoc basis. While this is a positive development, the procedures remain unclear, inconsistently applied and subject to prior approval by de facto entities, self-isolation requirement and negative COVID-19 test results
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.