Ukraine + 2 more

Ukraine Situation: UNHCR Operational Update, 20 January - 9 February 2016 [EN/UK]

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KEY FIGURES

  • 57,300 People receiving UNHCR winterization assistance
  • USD 6.1 million winterization budget
  • 34,100 tonnes of heating coal or m3 wood
  • 29 Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) across Ukraine currently implemented

FUNDING

  • USD 34.8 million requested for the operation in 2016

PRIORITIES

  • Leading the Protection and Shelter/NFI Clusters.
  • Supporting the Government of Ukraine on IDP and refugee/asylum issues.
  • Advocacy on freedom of movement, humanitarian access, and other concerns.
  • Provision of humanitarian assistance, especially around the line of contact and NGCA.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Situational overview: Following a period of improved security conditions, the situation is again deteriorating, with increased fighting taking place on the line of contact and continued tension throughout eastern Ukraine.

  • Protection concerns: Freedom of movement across the line of contact remains a primary concern. Access to adequate housing for internally displaced people (IDPs) is also an ongoing concern.

  • Legislation update: A law strengthening guarantees of rights and freedoms of IDPs’ came into effect including removal of the need for IDPs to extend their registration certificate every six months. 

  • Assistance provided: Since 20 January, UNHCR provided non-food items (NFIs) and emergency shelter assistance to more than 2,000 people.

Operational Context

The security situation in eastern Ukraine has deteriorated during the past few weeks, following a period of relative calm during the winter holidays. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reports ceasefire violations, including increased use weapons prohibited under the terms of the Addendum to the Package of Measures. While the fighting remains concentrated near to Horlivka, Donetsk airport and Debaltseve on the line of contact in Donetsk region, the overall situation in eastern Ukraine remains tense.

Freedom of movement across the line of contact continues to be a most pressing concern, particularly in light of the worsening security situation which has led to the closure of some crossing points and increased queues at those that remain open. Conditions at crossing points remain difficult as people crossing the line of contact face long waits in cold temperatures while their papers are checked. A pass system initiated in January 2015 with the introduction of the Temporary Order on Movement remains in place. The system was improved with the launch of an electronic pass system in July. The State Security Service announced that the validity of previously issued paper passes with an expiration date of 31 December 2015 would be automatically extended, however, there have been some reports of people being denied permission to cross the line of contact with these passes. Recently de facto authorities in Donetsk have begun “customs” type activities, registering passport details in a database, inspecting luggage and goods and collecting taxes. This process has led to further restrictions and delays on crossing the line of contact. Conditions at crossing points are also hazardous due to the presence of explosive remnants of war (ERW), such as landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) which contaminates areas near to the line of contact.

The situation in villages near the line of contact remains particularly difficult due to continued insecurity and poor socio-economic conditions. Most people of working age have no livelihood opportunities. Access to social assistance is difficult as government services are suspended, requiring people to travel in order to receive social assistance, including medical care. People living near the line of contact lack access to administrative and legal services as well as information on social entitlements. Transport connections are often unreliable or non-existent as transport companies refuse to operate in some areas due to difficulty of access caused by the presence of checkpoints. Poor transport connections mean that some children attend school infrequently.

Humanitarian access to non-government controlled Donetsk remains limited for UN agencies while the issue of ‘registration’ is still pending. UNHCR continues to conduct activities through partners, including monitoring, meeting with different partners and implementation of small-scale community based projects and Quick Impact Projects (QIPs).

As the situation in Ukraine enters its third year, for many displacement is becoming a long-term prospect. Housing solutions for IDPs are difficult to find, as affordable quality housing is in short supply. Many IDPs stay with host families, volunteers and in private accommodation, though affordable private accommodation is often in poor condition. The most vulnerable displaced often end up living in collective centres, which are intended for short-term transit accommodation. At present, there are around 300 such collective centres housing some 14,000 people. In 2015, relocation of IDPs to alternative housing allowed 23 collective centres to be closed.