Ukraine Humanitarian Needs Overview 2020 (January 2020)

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Summary of Humanitarian Needs





Summary of Context Scope of Analysis

In its sixth year, the situation in the conflict-affected Donetska and Luhanska oblasts in eastern Ukraine continues to take a significant toll on the lives of more than five million people, 3.4 million of whom require humanitarian assistance and protection services. Over 3,300 civilians have been killed, while more than 7,000 have been injured. The direct impact of violence on ordinary people remains a challenge – as daily shelling and the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnances continues to negatively impact their physical and mental well-being. Community infrastructure and civilian assets are also attacked, putting millions at risk of losing access to water, health, education and heating. The ’contact line’ which separates areas under and outside Government-control, and the need to register as an IDP to obtain social benefits have also had an indirect impact on the well-being of people, leaving IDPs and communities in non-Government controlled area (NGCA) facing a variety of challenges in accessing social entitlements (including pensions) and State administrative services.

The ’contact line’ has also severed people from markets and from the health care providers they once relied on. The negative economic impact of the conflict can be felt across the affected communities, not only because of the barriers to access employment, but also because many enterprises or coal mines have been shut down.

Scope of Analysis

This overview focuses on the humanitarian needs in the conflict-affected Donetska and Luhanska oblasts (hereafter as ‘conflict-affected area’), with particular attention to affected areas on both sides of the ’contact line’. It also considers people who are internally displaced across Ukraine GCA and who are faced with humanitarian and societal challenges. The analysis is based on an understanding that populations living close to the ’contact line’ are generally more vulnerable than those farther away, although differences in needs exist between urban and rural populations and between Government controlled area (GCA) and NGCA.

Humanitarian Consequences

The impact of the conflict can be examined along four dimensions. Firstly, people in affected areas face critical problems related to their physical and mental well-being – whether related to shelling and landmine contamination, direct damages to housing and civilian infrastructure. Secondly, people in affected areas face critical problems related to living standards – due to the indirect impact of the conflict on access to basic services, and to the high levels of unemployment and food insecurity. Thirdly, people face critical problems related to their protection – not only related to their physical safety – but also due to their limited freedom of movement, curtailed access to social benefits and civil documentation, and to a series of normative frameworks and laws that combine with the conflict situation to create humanitarian needs. Lastly, people face problems related to their resilience and recovery, whether linked to social cohesion, to the implementation of durable solutions (particularly for IDPs), or to developmental issues, including the ability of the Government to deliver humanitarian assistance through local and national capacity.

Severity of Needs

Humanitarian needs in the affected areas range from water and sanitation, food insecurity and livelihoods to health, shelter, education and protection services. Overall, needs affect different regions differently - depending largely on the specific characteristics of a location (rural vs. urban, proximity to an urban area, etc) and on their pre-conflict state. While there are technically more emergency needs closest to the ’contact line’, the “urban disconnect” must also be accounted for – with many rural areas further from the ’contact line’, more affected than urban areas closer to the ’contact line’, because they have been cut off from urban centres which once provided employment, markets and basic services. While physical and mental well-being needs increase closer to the ’contact line’ in GCA - where fighting is most intense -- they do not follow the same logic in NGCA, where rural communities further away from the ’contact line’ continue to suffer from pre-conflict poverty, the socio-economic downturn, exposure to heavy fighting in 2014-2015, and to the limited quantity of aid provided in this area over the past five years. The quality of living standards does not vary as significantly as one moves away from the ’contact line’. Similarly, protection needs are slightly more elevated in NGCA, because of the large number of people who depend on social entitlements – and the difficulty they face in accessing them. Nevertheless, issues around the protection of civilians affects both sides of the ’contact line’. Resilience and recovery needs tend to be higher in Government-controlled areas, further from the ’contact line’, where there is more opportunity to work towards the long term. For more analysis on the different type of needs, please refer to the section 1.4 Humanitarian Consequences.

People in Need

Despite a significant drop in the number of civilian casualties in 2019, an estimated 3.4 million people still require humanitarian assistance or protection services, which is similar to last year and constitutes nearly eight per cent of the total population of Ukraine. About 1.9 million of the people in need reside in NGCA, while 1.5 million live in GCA (including 350,000 vulnerable IDPs living permanently in GCA.) The elderly account for almost one third (32 per cent) of people in need – the highest proportion among humanitarian crises worldwide. Women account for over half of people in need (56 per cent) – and many among these women serve as heads of household. A generation of over half a million children (more than 16 percent of people in need) is growing up surrounded by violence and fear, which will have a long-lasting effect on their future, and on the social fabric. Affected regions also have high numbers of people with disabilities, which represent 12 per cent of people in need. This reflects not only the presence of a large elderly population, but also suggests that their disability has kept them from moving away from particularly affected areas closest to the ’contact line’. Lastly, some 350,000 internally displaced persons (10 per cent of people in need) living in GCA continue to face innumerable challenges in accessing durable solutions.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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