Humanitarian and political background
In 2014, following political demonstrations, clashes escalated into armed conflict between separatists and Ukrainian forces.
Despite a fragile ceasefire signed in 2015, localised fighting still occurs along the frontlines between Ukrainian and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. More than 9,400 people have been killed and some 31,000 wounded. Serious human rights concerns persist inside the conflict zone.
Civilians in eastern Ukraine are severely affected. According to the UN, some 3.1 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 2.5 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the violence, and struggle to access their rights. Of those, some 1 million have fled the country.
In many areas affected by the hostilities, particularly along the frontlines, 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. Water supplies have been damaged. Prices of basic goods have significantly increased.
People we helped in Ukraine in 2015
NRC in Ukraine
"We want to be on the frontline of where people need us most. Here, we can help them protect their rights."
Programme development manager, Miradije Hodza
Through our Ukraine programme, we provide shelter, clean water, and legal aid 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 protect civilians displaced by violence by providing information and legal counselling. We provide clean water and hygiene items to communities along the front lines.
Shelter/Non-food items (NFI)
In Ukraine, we help people displaced by violence through:
- Building emergency shelters.
- Building sturdy, transitional shelters.
- Providing shelter materials to make repairs.
- Repairing community infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools.
- Preparing civilians for the cold winter temperatures with heating, proper insulation and clothing.
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
To protect civilians who had to flee or have damaged homes, 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.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
For communities affected by conflict to have access to clean water, we implemented a WASH programme.
Our activities include:
- Delivering potable water to communities along the frontlines.
- Repairing water pumps and water stations.
- Distributing hygiene kits.
- Providing items such as water filters, toilets, washbasins, water pumps, and water heaters.
NRC in Ukraine
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.
Severodonetsk, Ukraine: “Working with refugees echoes my own feelings. I understand when they say something, why they say it,” says Tatiana Stepykina. She and many of her colleagues at the NRC office in Ukraine are themselves displaced, and now work to help others in the same situation.