In eastern Ukraine the security situation remains extremely volatile with daily hostilities and casualties particularly along the line of contact, despite renewed commitments by the warring parties to adhere to a ceasefire. The number of civilian victims is on the rise, while damage to housing and critical civilian infrastructures, 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 surfaced in 2014, between armed groups and government forces continues. It has affected over 4.4 million people, out of which 4 million are believed to be in need of humanitarian assistance.
The humanitarian situation is grim as freedom of movement and humanitarian access are restricted. The obligation imposed by the de-facto "authorities" for humanitarian organisations, since July 2015, to register in the non-government controlled areas (NGCA) in eastern Ukraine, and the government decision to temporary suspend cargo transfers to and from NGCA (except humanitarian) continue to have a negative impact on populations’ needs and wellbeing.
In addition, the suspension of state social assistance, including pensions to displaced people continue to affect hundreds of thousands of people, and have placed many of them at risk of falling further into dire poverty and vulnerability.
It is therefore essential to address the needs of the most vulnerable among the conflict affected population, who continue to need critical life-saving assistance, such as in protection, health, shelter, food and livelihood assistance, water and education.
Since 2014, the European Union and its Member States have contributed to over €399 million in humanitarian and early recovery aid. The EU addresses the basic needs of the population in the areas directly affected by the conflict, the internally displaced persons and refugees who have fled the conflict areas, and the returnees. EU-funded projects include food assistance, shelter, water, protection, health, including psychosocial activities, education in emergencies, essential household items and livelihoods.
Being one of the largest humanitarian donors to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the European Commission has provided over €88.1 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. The European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department has been in Ukraine since February 2014 and plays 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 is also assisting 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. In addition 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) are delivering humanitarian assistance.
Only one EU-funded partner is able to fully operate in Luhansk and Donetsk, while two can operate in Luhansk. This extremely limited number of aid agencies in NGCA cannot respond to all humanitarian needs.