In eastern Ukraine the security situation remains extremely volatile with daily hostilities and casualties particularly along the line of contact. The number of civilian victims is on the rise, while damage to housing and critical civilian infrastructure, particularly water supply and electricity systems is increasing. Conflict-affected residents, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and returnees face difficult access to health care and other essential services. In addition these people endure socio-economic exclusion, loss of income and livelihood and suffer from psychological distress.
The conflict, which began in 2014, between armed groups and government forces continues. It has affected over 4.4 million people, of which 3.4 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The humanitarian situation is grim as freedom of movement and humanitarian access are restricted. Since July 2015, de-facto "authorities" have imposed obligations for humanitarian organisations to register in the non-government controlled areas (NGCA) in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government decree on the restriction of movement of people and goods in January 2015 combined with its temporary suspension of cargo transfers to and from NGCA (except humanitarian) in March 2017, continues to have a negative impact on the populations’ needs and wellbeing.
In addition, the suspension of state social assistance to displaced people (including pensions) continues to affect hundreds of thousands of people, and have placed many of them at risk of falling further into poverty.
Since 2014, the European Union and its Member States have contributed over €677 million in humanitarian and early recovery aid. The EU addresses the needs of the population in the areas directly affected by the conflict, the internally displace people and refugees who have fled the conflict areas, and the returnees. EU-funded humanitarian projects include food assistance, shelter, water, protection, health (including psychosocial activities), education in emergencies, and essential household items.
Being one of the largest humanitarian donors to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the European Commission has provided over €112 million of emergency assistance, half of which benefits vulnerable people in the non-government controlled areas (NGCA). This relief aid targets the most vulnerable populations, including female-headed households, the elderly, children, and persons with disabilities.
Projects implemented in 2016-17 from the European Commission's own funding have directly helped over 500 000 affected Ukrainians. EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) have been operating in Ukraine since February 2014 and play a key role in facilitating humanitarian coordination and information sharing with various humanitarian stakeholders, including donors, authorities and partners. In addition to financial aid, material assistance has been mobilised through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The EU also assists Ukrainian refugees in Belarus and Russia through national Red Cross societies in the respective countries.
The humanitarian assistance is being delivered through the European Commission's humanitarian partners, including Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Médecins du Monde (MDM), ACTED and People In Need (PIN) via a consortium. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UNHCR, OCHA, UNICEF, Save the Children, Première Urgence International (PUI), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Danish Refugee Council (DRC) also deliver humanitarian assistance.