To reduce vulnerability to disaster risk in eastern Ukraine, R2P takes part in two eponymous projects “Reducing Disaster Risk (DRR) Vulnerability in Eastern Ukraine” implemented by a 3P Consortium led by ACTED with participation of IMPACT Initiatives and the Red Cross Movement (through the Danish Red Cross).
The aim of the first one, which is funded by the European Union (through the Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations), is to improve understanding of, and promote and take measures towards preparedness to industrial/ecological risks including those exacerbated by the armed conflict in raions and municipalities which border the Line of Contact. Project activities include area-based local planning and capacity-enhancing support on risk management; desk research on industrial/ecological risks and policies pertaining to these sectors; recommendations for legislative/policy amendments (targeting national/regional authorities; international actors); advocacy for the implementation of existing norms/laws and priorities and investments identified in local plans; increased community and household awareness of risks and basic preparedness measures. R2P leads the activity cluster comprising the legal analyses, recommendations and advocacy component.
The second project is funded by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and aims to improve understanding of, and promote and take measures towards preparedness to multi-hazard risks in the same areas. Activities also include area-based planning and capacity-enhancing support on risk management; development of local risk mitigation and preparedness plans; and increased community and household awareness of risks and basic preparedness measures. In addition, the project has a water safety planning component. Under this second project, R2P leads the organization and implementation of 15 trainings on protection and humanitarian principles for local authorities in 5 communities in government-controlled Donbas.
Today we present R2P report ‘Crossing the contact line’’. It is based on data collected during 35 visits to the five entry-exit checkpoints (EECPs) in January 2020. More statistical data can be found here.
- An 84-year-old man died at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP in the morning of January 21. The preliminary cause of death is unknown. According to the information from public sources, a woman of 75 years old died at “Horlivka” checkpoint in NGCA on January 4.
- The problem of people being unable to return to the NGCA due to being listed in the debtor’s register is growing more serious and widespread. In some cases, people remain in the register even after having paid all their debts because of bureaucratic delays and discrepancies. The issue forces people to stay in the GCA, which leads to additional expenditures, problems with employment (people may be fired for long absence), temporary family separation and other issues. R2P monitors reported that the average number of such individuals ranges from 1 per week to 5 per day, depending on the EECP.
- In January, minors over 14 years old without Ukrainian passports had issues while crossing the contact line due to CMU Resolution №815. Minors in this situation, along with their parents or caregivers were transferred to the national police staff at the EECP to file a document, confirming their intention to apply for a passport and explaining why the child did not obtain it before attempting to cross. The State Migration Service certificate of application for passport is required for them to return to NGCA.
- The share of complaints regarding long lines sharply decreased from 53% to 21%. It was most likely caused by a significant decrease in the number of crossings.
- During the month of January, 25,550 vulnerable elderly persons were provided with transportation support at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP by NGO Proliska electric vehicle. According to the monitoring observations, the estimated number of civilians transported by the bus, provided by Luhansk Oblast Administration, was around 125,000.
On February 17, human rights activists presented an alternative report in Kyiv on Ukraine’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that studies observance of the conflict-affected people’s rights in Ukraine.
The UN Committee is starting its 67th session in Geneva, during which the Ukrainian government’s seventh report on the Covenant’s observance will be examined. The reporting procedure involved preparation of questions for Ukraine by the Committee in 2018, followed by the government’s replies given in 2019. Simultaneously, an alternative report was presented to the Committee by a Coalition of NGOs that deal with conflict-related issues and help victims of the conflict.
We focused on victims of the conflict, emphasizing that this group requires special attention from both the state and the international community. We also did our best to provide specific recommendations that should help improve people’s lives and finally resolve systemic problems,” says Alyona Lunyova, advocacy manager at the ZMINA Human Rights Center.
According to Anastasiya Odintsova, legal analyst of the charitable fund Right to Protection, the issues of employment and housing for IDPs have remained unresolved for almost six years due to the lack of holistic vision and proper funding for strategic areas.
Thanks to the efforts of NGOs, a court decision delivered in 2018 abolished the provisions of the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution no. 365 that forced IDPs to undergo inspections at their place of residence when they applied for social benefits and pensions. However, the practice of such inspections is still in place. There are also widespread issues of non-compliance with courts that order the authorities to resume payments to IDPs whose pensions had been suspended earlier after an inspection. The government’s debt in these cases has already reached UAH 600 million,” says Anastasiya Odintsova.
Another important issue concerns integration of IDPs into local communities. Despite the adoption of the Electoral Code of Ukraine in late 2019, which provides for the possibility of voting in local elections for IDPs, the latter are not considered members of the territorial communities they live in and are thus unable to fully enjoy their political rights, and it’s the political engagement of IDPs that can help not just with their successful integration, but also with the inclusion of IDPs’ needs during the development and implementation of local programs. Such is the opinion of Maria Krasnenko, lawyer of the Civil Holding GROUP OF INFLUENCE.
Much of the report’s focus is on residents of Ukraine’s temporarily occupied territories.
“One of the principles enshrined in the Covenant is progressive implementation of socio-economic rights. This means that Ukraine has an obligation to take all necessary steps to allow residents of the occupied territories to exercise their rights without discrimination. This includes access to documents, pensions, employment, education, social and administrative services,” says Hanna Dudinska, lawyer of the charitable fund Stabilization Support Services.
Equally urgent are issues related to the protection of children, particularly the ineffectual status of a child affected by war and armed conflicts, as well as the absence of a strategic level document on these issues in the country.
Olga Skrypnyk, head of the board of the Crimean Human Rights Group, says: “We would like to draw particular attention to the consequences of Russia’s militarization of children in Crimea – the destruction of their Ukrainian identity, the inability to choose one’s citizenship, the large-scale propaganda of the service in the Russian armed forces. Crimean children are able to get education in Ukrainian language only in the GCA, and these children are also facing a number of other unresolved issues. Thus, they can obtain certificates of basic and complete secondary education only if they intend to study in Ukrainian universities. Otherwise it’s impossible, which prevents them from getting a job or vocational education in the future.”
The Coalition of human rights defenders addresses the UN Committee in the alternative report, asking it to include the following recommendations in its final observations:
- start working on a new IDP Integration Strategy 2021-2025 and an action plan on its implementation;
- develop national policy on the exercise of housing rights by IDPs and an action plan on its implementation as part of the national policy on IDP integration;
- separate applying for pensions and social benefits that are not related to internal displacement from the need to obtain IDP certificates;
- introduce a mechanism for paying pensions to residents of the occupied territories, including to low mobility people and people with disabilities;
- develop a concept of education for residents of the temporarily occupied territories that would take into account their situation, etc.
For reference: the authors of the alternative report for the UN Committee “Ensuring the observance of socio-economic rights of the conflict-affected population in Ukraine” are experts of NGOs Donbas SOS, Crimea SOS, Civil Holding GROUP OF INFLUENCE, ZMINA Human Rights Center and Crimean Human Rights Group as well as charitable funds Right to Protection, Vostok SOS and Stabilization Support Services.
It is difficult to exercise your rights when you do not know them or do not know where to go to get the right information. That is why our colleagues, with the support of the Swedish Institute (SI) and the University of Lund, have developed an information booklet “Promoting access to basic social services for the Roma population”. Our lawyers Sonya Kordonets and Konstantin Funziy has already, together with the partners, spoken about it to the representatives of the Roma community of Kyiv region. On February 12 the meeting turned into a consultation. There are a lot of problems that need to be commented by lawyers and specialists. The questions were mostly concerned on the topic of obtaining a Ukrainian passport. We thank to the representatives of the Center for Social Services for the Family, Children and Youth of Darnytskyi District for their support and assistance in organizing the meeting.