Ukraine: Protection Cluster Factsheet - April 2021 [EN/RU/UK]

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• Protection of Civilians: According to OHCHR, 17 conflict-related civilian casualties were recorded in April. A total of 39 civilian casualties were recorded since January 2021, out of which 77% were due to mines or Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). From January to April 2021 there was a 50% increase in mine/ERW incidents in comparison to the same period in 2020. Partners are concerned with the possible increase of this type of incident, particularly considering that mine-victim assistance is very limited – or unavailable in some areas. Although the general number of civilian casualties due to hostilities is the lowest in the entire period of the conflict, the security situation is still volatile and there has been increasing numbers of incidents reported by INSO (577 security incidents in April) in the area near the contact line. At least 25 houses were damaged as a result of shelling in April.

• Access to essential services (СOVID-19): A sharp outbreak of COVID-19 сases wasrecorded in isolated settlements – in some cases up to 30% of the population had symptoms or tested positive, while others needed to be hospitalized and two persons died. The situation is concerning considering the longstanding limited response of health emergency services in isolated settlements due to security reasons; and the lack ofregular, predictable and affordable transportation for residents to access urban centers to seek medical assistance. According to UNHCR’s and Proliska’s Protection Monitoring, 47 isolated settlements reported not having access to transportation and at least 26 isolated settlements reported that ambulances do not always arrive or arrive after a long waiting period, or simply do not reach the settlement at all. The issue is being discussed with authorities and responses are coordinated with the Health and WASH clusters.

• Freedom of Movement: Only two Entry-Exit Crossing Points (EECPs) are operational on both sides (Stanytsia Luhanska and Novotroitske). Since the introduction of free tests at the EECP Stanytsia Luhanska in March 2021, 3,215 persons were tested. However, approximately 51,000 persons crossed through EECP Stanytsia Luhansk in March 2021 only. Those without access to free COVID19 tests have to rely on paying for tests, accepting to enter observation centers or arranging their own accommodation for a self-isolation of 14 days.

• Access to pensions: On 27 April, Oschchadbank prolonged the validity of the cards expired during quarantine restrictions. This will allow the residents of NGCA to continue withdrawing their pensions and social payments without undergoing physical identification and re-issuing the new bank card. As of 1 April 2021, the Pension Fund (Resolution №1596) stopped allocating pensionsto 3,858 IDPs who have not been withdrawing their payments from their bank accounts for more than 12 months. This group will only be able to withdraw the amount accumulated in the bank account until now. Due to restriction applied to crossings though EECPs, many IDPs residing in NGCA were unable to withdraw their pensions.

• Housing, Land and Property Rights: On 28 April, the Government adopted a procedure to allow IDPs to apply to preferential long-term mortgage loans. It is expected that in 2021 - 2022, 680 households or 1,768 IDPs will benefit from this programme. On compensation for damaged or destroyed houses, since January 2021, the Compensation Committees in Donetsk and Luhansk regions approved 89 requests (including 29 approvals in April); 20 persons have already received compensation payments.