The NRC strategy has focused on addressing the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and conflict-affected communities, especially along the front-line (the so-called "contact-line") in Luhansk oblast (both in government controlled areas (GCA) and non-government controlled areas (NGCA). In March 2016, NRC expanded activities into districts of northern Donetsk oblast (GCA), which is another location of a very high IDP concentration. In mid-2016 NRC opened a field office in Stanytsia Luhanska (Luhansk oblast), which provides protection and assistance services to civilians in this contact-line district – including to the thousands who travel regularly between GCA and NGCA at the crossing point in this town.
NRC provides basic support to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable conflict-affected population in GCA through cross-sectoral assistance and protection. With the relative stabilisation in communities away from the front-line and the reduction in intensity of the conflict in some localities, there is an evolution from purely emergency towards early recovery needs; consequently, in 2016 NRC has initiated some activities to address such needs (livelihoods).
Humanitarian and political background
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine remained unresolved despite diplomatic efforts and numerous cease-fire agreements. Throughout 2016 localised hostilities occurred regularly along the contact-line. Over 4 million persons have been affected by the conflict, with the civilians living along both sides of the front-line considered as the most vulnerable. Since the start of hostilities, more than 9,900 people have been killed, 2,000 of which are civilians; 23,246 people have been wounded. As of February 2017, some 1.65 million persons remained registered as internally displaced.
Civilians in eastern Ukraine are severely affected. According to the UN, some 3.8 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 3,1 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the violence, and struggle to access their rights. Of those, some 1,5 million have fled the country.
In many areas affected by the hostilities, particularly along the front-lines, civilians lack access to basic services. Employment is scarce, the sick cannot access medical care, and the population at large lacks adequate food, shelter, heating and money. Prices of basic goods continued to grow. Freedom of movement across the front-line remains a major challenge, with security concerns and administrative barriers; nevertheless, it is estimated that 700,000 civilians travel between government controlled and non-government controlled areas every month in order to maintain family ties, look after property, access markets, health care and social payments.
People we helped in Ukraine in 2016
NRC in Ukraine
The situation in Ukraine remains volatile and of concern to the international community. With the needs of affected-communities being diverse, NRC has developed a holistic programme within the core competencies of ICLA, Shelter and Food Security/Livelihoods. This responds to needs both in the conflict and post-conflict areas. Due to the unstable situation, new and secondary displacements can take place; thus, NRC maintains the capacity to rapidly respond to evolving humanitarian needs. At the same time, NRC is working to mitigate the risk of protracted displacement and has begun to pursue approaches that offer durable solutions for the displaced and host communities; in this regard, NRC has launched projects aimed at meeting early-recovery needs in certain localities.
Through our Ukraine programme, we provide shelter, non-food items, legal aid, food security and livelihood assistance to civilians forced to flee, the families that host them, and other vulnerable groups.
We began our activities in Ukraine in late 2014, delivering emergency assistance. In April 2015, we started our Country Programme in Ukraine.
We operate from our country office in Kyiv, with field offices in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine.
We work to ensure civilians have proper shelter by repairing damages and building durable, winter-proof houses.
We provide fuel, water and hygiene items to communities along the front-lines.
We protect civilians displaced by violence by providing information and legal counselling.
We provide vulnerable families with agricultural assistance to promote self-sufficiency.
Shelter and Non-food assistance
We help people displaced by conflict through:
- Providing emergency shelters.
- Providing shelter materials to make repairs.
- Reconstructing destroyed and damaged houses.
- Repairing community infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools.
- Preparing civilians for the cold winter temperatures with fuel and proper house insulation.
- Distributing hygiene kits.
- Providing items such as water filters, toilets, washbasins, water pumps, and water heaters for hospitals and schools.
Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA)
To protect civilians who had to flee or live close to the front-line, we provide free legal information and counselling.
Our activities include:
- Operating three legal aid centres.
- Dispatching mobile teams of lawyers.
- Making home visits to the elderly and people with disabilities.
- Running a telephone hotline.
- Organising group information sessions.
- Conducting research and advocacy efforts on legal issues of displaced civilians.
Food Security and Livelihoods
Through food security and livelihood activities, we aim to restore agricultural productive capacity and sustainable livelihoods, improve access to markets by communities living along the front-line:
- Providing seeds, livestock and animal feed.
- Providing greenhouse repair materials, irrigation pumps and pipes
NRC in Ukraine
A Front-Line Education
The village of Troitske is only 4 km from the front-line in Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine. Its southern and western outskirts are surrounded by separatist controlled territories, making the people feel trapped in this front-line area.
So close, yet so far away
Historically united as one community, villages Zhovte and Lobacheve in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine are today separated as a result of war.
Bleak prospects for people in eastern Ukraine
Two and a half years after conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine, life for people is harder than ever. “An increasing number of vulnerable civilians remain subject to deepening humanitarian hardship. They are starting to lose hope,” said Christopher Mehley, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Ukraine.