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 4.4 million people were affected by the conflict and 3.4 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 the resettling 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 constantly 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, Slovyansk, Severodonetsk and Berdyansk.
The DRC-DDG Ukraine teams consist of 10 international staff with sectoral and humanitarian expertise combined with highly skilled 139 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 protection of the conflict-affected population and IDPs with an emphasis on child protection and community empowerment; support to youth (life-skills-focused PSS, youth-led community-based initiatives, creation of Youth Centres); community-based protection: community-based initiatives and community mobilisation projects; psychosocial services; awareness raising trainings in Child Protection for servicemen (civil-military cooperation – CIMIC), mobilization and training of community-based groups.
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, vocational training, support for the State Employment Service.
Shelter: Rehabilitation of housing is the most needed. DRC has provided both emergency household repairs light-repairs for conflict affected households, new construction of private houses.
Cross-Border Capacity Building: DRC provides capacity building of the Government of Ukraine and civil society addressing internal displacement at national and regional levels through the Georgian experience through strengthening cooperation between the Ministry of ‘Temporarily Occupied Territories’ and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the ‘Occupied Territories’, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia and the Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality.
Humanitarian Mine Action: In February 2015, DDG initiated Mine Risk Education (MRE) 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. Whilst MRE has been proven to be effective in helping to reduce civilian casualties, it is a short-term measure and does not address the root cause of the problem by removing the threat itself. As of July 2017 DDG has trained and deployed its first two clearance teams in the vicinity of Myrna Dolyna, Luhansk Oblast. In April 2018 DDG trained two more clearance teams that were deployed in the same area, adding further capacity to tackle the threat of landmines to civilians.
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:
- The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM) and The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA)
- The British Department for International Development (DfID)
- The European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civilian Protection (ECHO)
- The European Union
- The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- The Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
- The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)