● More than a million people have been displaced within Ukraine, while indiscriminate shelling continues in the east of Ukraine despite the ceasefire.
● Clashes have subsided in Debaltseve and many civilians emerging from bunkers are in urgent need of assistance.
● On 19 February, a UN inter-agency convoy delivered 62 metric tons of humanitarian aid to Donetsk.
● The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) will launch the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) on 24 February. Funding is urgently needed for humanitarian operations. The revised HRP amounts to $316 million.
1 million registered IDPs Source: Ministry of Social Policy
While the 15 February ceasefire led to a considerable decrease of hostilities in most parts of eastern Ukraine, in Debaltseve and other locations clashes continued. In Debaltseve fighting waned on 19 February, the day after the Government of Ukraine withdrew military personnel and equipment. For the first time in many weeks, people came out of hiding in cellars and bunkers, where they had very limited access to sanitary facilities, water, heating, electricity or food. Teams visiting the area – which reportedly hosts as many as 5,000 civilians - indicate that food, non-food items and medical aid are priority needs. Similar situations are reported across the whole disputed area where parties to the conflict are clashing and where approximately two million people live, including half a million people estimated to be living for a protracted period underground because of shelling.
In the vicinity of Donetsk airport, residents describe the situation as extremely difficult, with no water or electricity supply for the past two months. The entire area has suffered damage. Residents get water from damaged pipes and what falls on the street is collected. Food is generally available, and there is one small market.
Meanwhile, many people continue to flee cities and towns along the contact line. As of 16 February, the government reports 1,042,066 registered IDPs across the country. Displacement has emptied cities and towns of people. Before the conflict started, the population of Horlivka was 276,000 people; the current population stands at approximately 180,000 residents. The city of Dokuchaievsk had 30,000 residents and now just 8,000 people remain (1,200 people are under the age of 3). The town of Krasnohorivka had a population of 16,000 before the outbreak of hostilities. The town is now estimated to have a population of 4,000-5,000 people. Across Ukraine, out of 725,011 IDP families only 39 per cent have registered to receive state financial aid. Registration continues to be an issue for many, as – despite the inclusion of some new villages of origin in the list – some IDPs cannot register as such because their locations of origin are not recognized as a dangerous locality for civilians by the Government. Lack of registration means inability of many to access social benefits. Meanwhile, on 18 February, the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights held a public hearing dedicated to IDP issues, and resulted in two proposed laws: the draft laws 2166 and 2177 which, if passed, will allow for speedier IDP registration, positive changes with regards to freedom of movement, easier access to pensions, and a right for compensation for damaged abandoned property.
Out of 807,921 pensioners who applied to the Pension Fund to receive their pensions in the place of their temporary residence, 250,163 have not managed to register by 1 February 2015 (as required under the Resolution 637), thus facing the risk to remain without their income. The situation for older people in non-government control areas of Donetsk and Luhansk continues to worsen. Not receiving pensions for many months, they struggle to satisfy basic needs. The situation in remote rural areas and areas with active military conflict is especially alarming. Access to food and medicine is almost non-existent for many immobile older people in age category over 70 years of age. Evacuation from social care institutions is particularly difficult as many patients, mostly elderly, have not consented to evacuation. High numbers of bedridden persons who require special assistance or transportation also remain in conflict-affected areas. Members of armed groups have on several occasions stated that they will not allow the evacuation of people from such institutions to Government controlled areas.
Since 28 January, 9,476 people (including 2,131 children and 304 persons with disabilities) have been reportedly evacuated with the help of the State Emergency Service, local authorities, civil volunteers and on their own from the endangered areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Due to permanent shelling of residential areas of Debaltseve and neighbouring villages as well as the mining of roads, no organised evacuation of civilians from these places was conducted by the Ukrainian authorities since 8 February. On 18 February, the GoU reported that there is no electricity, water, or central heating in Avdiivka and Debaltseve.
Reports about civilian casualties from Debaltseve are still pending. Since the beginning of the conflict in mid-April 2014 and until 19 February 2015, at least 5,793 people (including 63 children) were killed and 14,595 (including 169 children) were wounded in the east of Ukraine.1 On top of the injuries, the top most reported morbidity causes in the conflict-affected area are cardio-vascular diseases, and diabetes. Conflict area hospitals have tremendous need of trauma care medicines and consumables2, laboratory reagents and diagnostic supplies, haemodialysis consumables and oncology medicines, as well as medical professionals and food.
While activities to provide assistance to IDPs in Government areas are being stepped up, on 19 February, the United Nations delivered 62 metric tons of humanitarian aid to Donetsk. This includes essential hygiene items, warm clothes, blankets, condensed milk powder, drinking water, and medical supplies procured by UNHCR, UNICEF, and WHO.
From 16-18 February, the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC), Mr. Neal Walker visited the conflict-affected regions of Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, including several IDP collective centres in the Kharkiv oblast. The HC spoke with many IDPs that recently fled conflict affected areas. He also held several meetings with state authorities. The discussions focused on the increasing and urgent humanitarian needs, challenges and the UN’s inter-agency efforts to boost assistance for the humanitarian crises.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.