Today we present the report ‘Crossing the contact line’ for November 2021, prepared by the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P). The report is based on data collected during the monitoring of the situation at the EECPs in eastern Ukraine, as well as on the IBCPs “Milove” and “Hoptivka” on the border with Russia.
More statistical data is available on the Online Dashboard.
- On 5 November, for several hours no one could cross the contact line in Luhansk oblast due to shelling near the Stanytsa Luhanska checkpoint, only one of two EECPs still open on both the GCA and the NGCA sides of the line. Then on 24 November the Marinka checkpoint was also shelled. Only exceptional crossings are authorized by NGCA side at Marinka EECP, with 14 crossings reported in November (SBGS statistics).
- Last month for the first time, travellers crossing Stanytsa Luhanska showed a higher percentage of respondents reporting concerns than those crossing Novotroitske EECP in Donetsk oblast. The proportion in Stanytsa Luhanska jumped from one eighth in September to one quarter in October and November. Raised levels of concern in Luhansk oblast appear to correlate with the temporary anti-Covid restrictions imposed by the Luhansk NGCA from 9 October to 11 November and will probably fall back to September levels from December.
- Stanytsa Luhanska EECP is usually open seven days a week. By contrast movement in Donetsk Oblast is more restricted. Novotroitske EECP is only open two days per week, and residents must seek permisson from Donetsk NGCA two weeks in advance, giving a humanitarian justification for their request.
- In November, 737 persons, 55 per centof those who entered the GCA through Novotroitske EECP, were tested for COVID-19 as were 2,312 persons, 14 per centof those who entered GCAvia Stanytsa Luhanska EECP. They were tested because they could not install the Vdoma location-aware app on their phones, an acute problem for people crossing the contact line to GCA, especially people aged 60+ and people with serious illnesses.
- To reach the GCA, many NGCA residents prefer to make arduous journeys to reach international border crossing points than cross the contact line. They enter or exit Russia through Milove IBCP in Luhansk oblast or Hoptivka IBCP in Kharkiv oblast, because crossing the contact line is now possible only through two EECPs, Novotroitske in Donetsk oblast and Stanytsa Luhanska in Luhansk oblast, both with varying restrictions.
- The survey indicates that in November, more residents of Donetsk NGCA crossed both Hoptivka and Milove IBCPs than Luhansk NGCA residents did. Although only a sample was surveyed, tentative inferences can be drawn. Larger numbers from Donetsk NGCA correlate with the tighter restrictions for crossing the Novotroitske EECP in Donetsk oblast.
- The travel distances are sometimes enormous. Some respondents said that to travel between the GCA and the NGCA via an IBCP, they had to travel 1,300 km, about same the distance as from Donetsk to Lviv.
- Due to the lack of transport at Hoptivka IBCP, between the Russian and Ukranian border gates, people have to walk 1.2 km on foot. This is especially challenging for the elderly, the sick, and those with heavy luggage.
- Nearly all respondents (95%) reported that a typical journey costs from 1,000 to 2,000 UAH (34-68 USD) one way. Others said they spent 3,000 and even up to 4,000 UAH (109-143 USD) for their journey.
- Hoptivka IBCP still lacks shelters and places for people to sit while waiting for buses for up to three hours.
- UNHCR continued the installation of the shelters and prefabricated modules at Milove IBCP in November.
The report is based on the results of a survey, regularly conducted by the specialists of the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) at the five EECPs in the Government-Controlled Areas (GCA) and administered regularly since June 2017. The survey is a part of the monitoring of violations of the rights of a conflict-affected population within the framework of the project “Advocacy, Protection and Legal Assistance to the Internally Displaced Population” implemented by the R2P with the support of UNHCR.
The purpose of a survey is to explore the reasons and concerns of those traveling from the NGCA to the GCA, as well as conditions and risks associated with crossing the ‘contact line’ through EECPs. The information collected in the survey helps identify protection needs, gaps, and trends, and provides an evidentiary basis for the advocacy efforts.
UNHCR and R2P are grateful for the critical financial support provided by donors who have contributed to the Ukraine operation, as well as those who have contributed to UNHCR programs with broadly earmarked and unearmarked funds.