In eastern Ukraine the security situation remains extremely volatile with frequent clashes across the relatively stable front line. Civilians continue to fall victims to the conflict, with frequent damage to housing and critical civilian infrastructure, particularly water supply and electricity systems. Conflict-affected residents, internally displaced people (IDPs), and returnees face difficulties in accessing health care and other essential services. In addition civilians endure many hardships such as the loss of income and livelihoods in addition to psychological stress.
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 remains grim along the ”line of contact". In the non-government controlled areas freedom of movement and humanitarian access are restricted. Since May 2018, few humanitarian organisations have been formally registered there, although the access is still denied for most international humanitarian actors. The Ukrainian government decree on the restriction of movement of people and goods combined with its temporary suspension of cargo transfers to and from non-government controlled areas (except humanitarian), continues to have a negative impact on the populations’ needs and wellbeing.
In addition, the suspension and obstacles to full access to state social assistance such as pensions for displaced people continues to affect hundreds of thousands of people, and place many of them at risk of falling further into poverty. As a result of heavy shelling, some critical civilian infrastructure is constantly damaged, for example, the Donetsk water filter station. Due to a high level of contamination by mines and other explosives, civilians are injured or cannot access their agricultural land. Ukraine ranks fifth worldwide for civilian casualties as a result of landmines and unexploded ordinance.
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 displaced people and refugees who have fled the conflict areas, and the returnees. EU-funded humanitarian projects include food assistance, providing and repairing shelter, water, protection activities, health assistance (including psychosocial activities), education in emergencies, demining activities and distribution of essential household items.
Being one of the largest humanitarian donors to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the European Commission has provided over €112 million in emergency financial assistance; this figure includes €20 million committed in 2018.. Half of the assistance benefits vulnerable people in the non-government controlled areas. This relief aid targets those most in need, including female-headed households, the elderly, children, and people with disabilities.
Projects implemented between 2017 and 2018 from the European Commission's own funding have directly helped over 500 000 affected Ukrainians. The EU's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) have operated in Ukraine since February 2014 and plays a key role in facilitating humanitarian coordination and information sharing with various humanitarian organisations, including donors, authorities and aid partners. In addition to financial aid, in-kind assistance was mobilised through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in the early onset of the conflict. The EU also provides assistance to displaced Ukrainians in Belarus and Russia .
Humanitarian assistance is delivered through the European Commission's humanitarian partners, including Médecins du Monde (MDM), ACTED and People In Need (PIN) via a consortium. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UNHCR, OCHA, IOM, UNICEF, Save the Children, Première Urgence International (PUI), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and HelpAge International also deliver humanitarian assistance.