The conflict in Ukraine has been ongoing since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 and the self-proclamation of autonomous republics in the Donbass region in late April 2014. The conflict has led to a de-facto partition of Ukraine and internal displacement of 1.6 million people, while 1 million people have fled across the borders. In addition, many citizens have been affected by the Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend social services and close down of the banking system in the separatist controlled areas. Imposed restrictions on movement of people and goods across the conflict line also make life extremely difficult for people living in the eastern regions. It is estimated that 3.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
DRC/DDG re-opened its operations in Ukraine in November 2014 to respond to the humanitarian needs in the country. DRC previously operated in Ukraine in 1998-2000 and 2007-2013, focusing on theresettling of Tartars returning to Crimea from Central Asia and on developing capacity of the asylum authorities and civil society working with child refugees.
Serious violations of the September 2014 and February 2015 ceasefires have been reported and sporadic fighting and shelling continues along the contact line between government forces and armed groups. Although the September 2015 ceasefire has resulted in a reduction in fighting, the conflict is yet to be resolved and continues to have a disproportionate impact on civilians.
DRC’s operations primarily address the needs of the internally displaced population in the government-controlled areas. Due to its earlier operations in Ukraine, DRC has a long-standing working relationship with the government of Ukraine and is an elected member of the Ukrainian Humanitarian Country Team and a founding member of the Ukraine NGO Forum. However, the legislative environment in Ukraine is complex in regards to humanitarian organizations and the NGO community is currently struggling to get access to the non-government controlled areas of Lugansk and Donetsk. DRC is now present in Kiev, Mariupol, Dnipropetrovsk, Severodonetsk and Sloviansk.
The DRC/DDG Ukraine teams consist of 18 international staff with sectoral and humanitarian expertise combined with highly skilled 121 national colleagues with technical skills and invaluable knowledge of the contexts to provide the best possible assistance to those in need.
Key Areas of Operation
Protection: DRC has implemented a large number of protection activities in Ukraine. These include psychosocial services, child and adolescent protection initiatives, individual cash assistance to families, mobilization and training of community-based groups, sexual and gender-based violence prevention and rights awareness-raising. DRC also do advocacy for the rights of displaced people and other conflict-affected population groups, support local government social services, developing legal aid networks and develop capacity of local NGOs to provide legal aid and help IDPs to claim land and property rights.
Humanitarian Mine Action: In February 2015, DDG initiated Mine Risk Education projects with the key objective of community level awareness-raising of the risks of mines and unexploded ordnance contamination. Training of local trainers in delivering MRE, development of educational materials and public information campaign have been carried out. Additionally, DDG is piloting the use of web- and mobile phone platforms to crowdsource information about hazards caused by unexploded ordnance.
Livelihoods and Income Generation: Restoration of livelihoods and income generation is an important component of the Ukraine programme. DRC has offered business training and SME development, business grants, life-skills training, literacy and numeracy training, vocational training, micro-credit loans, savings groups, group enterprise development and facilitation.
Shelter: Rehabilitation of housing is most needed. DRC has provided both emergency household repairs ensuring one dry and warm room and medium- to light-repairs for conflict affected households. Also emergency shelter kits and emergency cash grants are provided.
Non-food Items: Cash and in-kind materials are provided to ensure families can meet their basic needs though items such as warm clothing, bedsheets, hygiene items, tarpaulins.
Interagency coordination and advocacy: In correlation with DRC/DDG’s Value Compass, the Kyiv office places particular importance on continual cooperation with all members of the national and international humanitarian community in order to render DRC/DDG’s assistance as effective as possible through the areas of operation. As a part of daily coordination, DRC/DDG is a founding member and co-chair of the NGO Forum, a platform through which international and national NGOs coordinate and advocate to better serve humanitarian needs. DRC/DDG is also a member of the Humanitarian Country Team and the co-lead for the Mine Action Sub-Cluster. Many DRC Stand-By Roster international experts are placed in UN agencies to boost capacity, especially in the facilitation of cluster work.
DRC / DDG implements activities with its own funding, in addition to implementing activities funded by:
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
- The British Department for International Development (DfID)
- The European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civilian Protection (ECHO)
- The European Union