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18.11.20

To the:

Chairman of the Budget Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Yuriy Aristov

Minister for Communities and Territories Development

Chernyshov Olexiy

Prime Minister of Ukraine

Denis Shmyhal

OPEN APPEAL

We, the non-governmental organizations concerned with the protection and observance of the rights of internally displaced persons and persons, affected by the armed conflict, appeal to you on the matter of significant reduction of funding for housing programs for internally displaced persons in 2021.

It is well known that tackling the housing problems of internally displaced persons has been one of the most pressing issues since the beginning of the armed conflict in 2014 and till nowadays. Lack of housing directly affects the full integration of migrants into host communities and the arrangement of their lives. In addition, this is often the main reason for their return to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, thus endangering their safety and lives. In view of this, ensuring adequate funding for housing programs for IDPs will not only contribute to the realization of their constitutional right for housing, but will also create conditions for them to have a decent life.

At the same time, the draft Law of Ukraine “On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2021” (registered № 4000), which was adopted in the first reading on November 5, lacks funding for the two most important IDP housing programs, namely the Affordable Housing Program and the preferential lending to Joint Forces Operation participants and IDPs.

The Affordable Housing is a Program for migrants that provides state support in the form of payment of 50% of the cost of construction (purchase) of housing and / or preferential loan with the possibility of obtaining additional lending in the bank to pay part of the cost of construction (purchase), which exceeds the amount of state support.

The program of preferential lending to JFO participants and IDPs provides for a preferential state loan to purchase flat in an apartment building or a one-apartment house with an interest rate of 3% per annum, and for people in military service – from the beginning to the end of the special period; reservists and conscripts – from the moment of conscription during mobilization until the end of the special period, for the time of military service – with 0 interest rate. Both programs are implemented by the State Fund for Youth Housing.

In 2018 and 2019, the laws of Ukraine on the state budget for the respective years provided for the financing of the program “Affordable Housing” in the amount of UAH 100 million, and in 2019 the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 980 of 27.11.2019 was approved. the use of funds provided in the state budget for the provision of preferential long-term state credit to internally displaced persons, JFO participants for the purchase of housing, which allowed to finance the loan program at 3% per annum. Funding for the Affordable Housing Program was also provided for in 2020, but due to amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2020” adopted in April this year, funding for this program was completely reduced, and public expenditures on the program of preferential lending to IDPs and participants of the ATO / OOS in 2020 were not provided at all.

Judging by the draft Law of Ukraine “On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2021”, funding for both housing programs for IDPs in 2021 is not provided.

However, internally displaced persons are interested in participating in these programs. According to the information posted on the official website of the State Fund for Youth Housing, 16,000 people are waiting in line to participate in the Affordable Housing Program.

That is why we, the NGO sector organizations are concerned with the protection of the rights of victims of the conflict, appeal to the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Budget, Prime Minister and Minister of Development of Communities and Territories of Ukraine to finance housing programs for internally displaced persons in 2021. When preparing the draft Law of Ukraine “On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2021” for the second reading, we ask to take into account the need to finance the above housing programs – programs of preferential housing loans for JFO participants and IDPs at 3% per annum and Affordable Housing Program.

Right to Protection CF

ZMINA Human Rights Center

Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG)

Vostok SOS CF

NGO “Civil holding “GROUP OF INFLUENCE”

KrymSOS NGO

DonbassSOS NGO

Stabilization Support Services in Ukraine CF

18.11.20

Right to Protection CF brings your attention to our report «CROSSING THE CONTACT LINE: October 2020 Snapshot», prepared on the basis of data collected during the monitoring of the situation at the demarcation line. More data on the following topic.

General trends and dynamics

  • During the whole month, it was possible to cross the demarcation line only through two control checkpoints (hereinafter – CC). This led to a significant reduction in the number of crossings compared to the period before the introduction of quarantine restrictions. The number of crossings decreased by ≈77% in October compared to September, due to the closure of the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint: ≈20,000 and 86,000 crossings, respectively;
  • From September 30 to October 4, the crossing was temporarily suspended at the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint in the Luhansk region due to large-scale forest fires. As a result of the fire at the CC on September 30 and October 1, the first aid post and the waiting areas at the checkpoint were partially damaged. All beneficiaries waiting to cross the demarcation line were evacuated in a timely manner;
  • On October 13, the Special Forces Operation Command (further – SFO) announced that they would temporarily close the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint between October 16 and 31 due to the increasingly rapid spread of COVID-19 in the Luhansk region. Since the closure of the following checkpoint until the end of October, only about 200 people have received permission from the SFO to cross the demarcation line towards the government controlled territories of Ukraine (further – CTU);
  • The day after the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint closed, people gathered to cross the demarcation line towards the uncontrolled territory of Ukraine (further – UCTU): in many cases, people claimed that they had not been informed about the closure of the checkpoint. Some people stayed overnight at the checkpoint, waiting to be able to cross the demarcation line towards the UCTU because they were not provided with housing. In addition, there were many elderly people over the age of 80;
  • On October 28, the SFO Command announced that the closure of the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint would last until November 15;
  • From October 5 to 15, 3,574 vulnerable elderly people received assistance in transportation to the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint from the NGO Proliska.

The document can be downloaded in:

English and Ukrainian.


The report contains information collected by the Right to Protection as part of a survey, conducted regularly since June 2017. CCs are located in Donetsk (Mayorske, Maryinka, Hnutove and Novotroitske) and Luhansk (Stanytsia Luhanska) regions. The survey is part of the monitoring of violations of the rights of the population affected by the conflict and is conducted within the project «Advocacy, Protection and Legal Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine» implemented by the Right to Protection CF with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The purpose of this survey is to find out the reasons, conditions and risks that accompany the crossing of the line of contact through the control checkpoints. The information gathered during the survey will help identify needs, gaps and trends, as well as provide an evidence base for advocacy activities.

18.11.20

On November 10, 2020, the Committee hearings on the problem of flooding of mines and pollution of drinking water in Donetsk and Luhansk regions were held.

The discussion was conducted in the format of a video conference, at the level of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Nature Management. Deputies of the Parliament, representatives of the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories, the Ministry of Defense, the State Ecological Inspectorate, the Ministry of Energy, the State Agency for Water Resources, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, the State Service of Geology and Subsoil, Donetsk and Luhansk Regional Administrations NSDC, scientific, international and public organizations all joined the event.

«The problem of mines flooding in Donbass did not appear yesterday. Throughout the years of conflict, Ukraine has suffered from the irresponsible actions of the occupying authorities in the uncontrolled territory, as a result of which the ecosystem in eastern Ukraine is now at risk of ecological catastrophe. Experts and civic activists are constantly trying to draw the authorities’ attention to this problem. Over the last year, we have seen some progress in this direction. Thanks to the joint efforts of the People’s Deputy of Ukraine Lesya Vasylenko and the public, the problematic issues were raised and voiced at the level of the profile committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. We hope this will be the first step in addressing this important issue and by working together we will avoid an environmental catastrophe,»

– commented the Legal Analyst of the Right to Protection CF Anastasiia Bondarenko, who also took part in the Committee hearings.

Video conference recording available (beginning with Anastasiia Bondarenko’s report – 2:19:55) *

As we mentioned before, on October 29, 2020, a round table «Risks and protection: legislation and practice» was held, where the White Paper was presented – an analytical document developed by experts from the 3P Consortium, which offers practical recommendations for public authorities for refinements and additions to the Unified State Civil Protection System of Ukraine. The hearings of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Nature Management became a logical continuation and beginning of the practical implementation of the action plan to respond to the environmental problem in the region. The next step will be to bring the issue to a parliamentary hearing.

* UPD: as of 18/11/2020, the full two-hour version of the conference is missing on YouTube, an excerpt with Ms. Anastasiia’s report is available

18.11.20

The increase in the number of recorded cases of gender-based and domestic violence in time of quarantine restrictions has become a widely spread phenomenon. Civil society organizations around the world have repeatedly emphasized the particular vulnerability of women locked up at home. The team of the Right to Protection CF decided to find out whether similar trends are observed in the territory along the demarcation line.

The study was conducted in Bakhmut, Volnovakha, Yasynuvata  and Toretsk districts Civil-military administrations of Donetsk region and in Popasna district in Luhansk region. Our monitoring unit provided information from five police stations, six social service centers (hereinafter referred to as the SSC or the center) and five mobile social and psychological support teams (hereinafter referred to as the MSPST or the brigade). In addition, statistics obtained through requests for public information were analyzed. The primary description of the informants’ activities was their own interpretation, which, if necessary, was expanded or clarified by normative documents.

DYNAMICS

Of course, statistics may not reflect the real situation, as not all cases become known. In addition, the dynamics may be affected by a large-scale information campaign recently conducted in the region. However, the data may indicate certain trends, especially in law enforcement. The current reporting in Ukraine is mostly about domestic violence, so we will use this term later.

According to the Department of Family, Youth and Mass Events in Donetsk region, the number of complaints in the first nine months of 2020 has already significantly exceeded the figures for the whole 12 month of 2019. A similar situation, according to the Department of Social Protection, was observed in the Luhansk region. It is noteworthy that the share of appeals from women in the Luhansk region is lower (78–82% vs. 91–92% in the neighboring region), while men complain more often (16–21% vs. 7–9%).

INFORMANTS

Regions have a well-developed institutional system for combating and preventing domestic and gender-based violence: from policy specialists at the local community level to regional coordinating bodies. We have focused on only a few of them. The most important source was the National Police of Ukraine, which receives the vast majority of complaints and has a number of tools at its disposal, including:

a) drawing up a report on an administrative offense under Article 173-2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses with a sanction in the form of a fine, community service or administrative arrest;

b) issuance of urgent injunctions for 10 days (for longer restriction in court);

c) taking offenders for preventive registration;

d) opening a criminal case (for example, after three violations of the prohibition order).

Comparative statistics (see Table 1) not only illustrate the general upward trend, but also the specifics of police practices. In particular, the Toretsk branch attracts attention with an extraordinary increase in all indicators. It can also be observed that in the Donetsk region police officers are becoming more and more accustomed to drafting prohibitive orders, sometimes with a 23-fold increase, while in the Luhansk region they continue to ignore this tool.

As for the centers of social services, they formulate their activities as such, which includes prevention (including relapses), outreach, psychological, primary legal and social counseling, as well as social support for families in difficult life circumstances. Mobile social and psychological support teams, in addition to the above, carry out scheduled visits and emergency interventions in case of threat to life or health of victims. The brigades serving the territories of the Toretsk Civil-military administration, Bakhmut and Volnovakha districts operate with the support of international donors, the other two are affiliated with social service centers. Although the number of appeals to centers and teams is lower than to the police, these organizations can still expand their understanding of the problem with their perspective on it.

Victims of domestic violence can also turn to secondary legal aid centers, which, however, do not seem to be popular, day care centers and shelters (Slovyansk, Druzhkivka, Rubizhne, Mariupol, etc.), and emergency anonymous medical care offices, which are usually deployed on the basis of gynecological departments of hospitals.

FIELD OBSERVATIONS

General situation

According to the respondents, the most common type of violence they face is psychological (humiliation, harassment, blackmail and manipulation). Physical violence was also mentioned, but almost never first. As explained by one of the respondents, people are not inclined to report such cases, or withdraw statements later. In some cases, they also referred to economic violence, explaining it as concealment of earnings or individual financial decisions.

Among the main factors of domestic violence, informants called high unemployment and alcohol abuse. Quarantine restrictions have added to the escalation of domestic conflicts. In addition, during the pandemic, victims were more likely to continue to live with offenders. Another factor in abuse is low awareness of one’s rights and protection mechanisms. The Toretsk Civil-military administration also pointed to the prevalence of violence in families with ATO/ JFO veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Institutional interaction

Typically, social service centers and mobile teams report cases of domestic violence to the police if (1) the victim is a minor or incapacitated, if (2) the violence is criminal in nature, or (3) with the consent of the victim. For example, a mobile team in Popasna reports all cases of physical violence. The police may also involve mobile teams and centers if necessary.

Reaction

Mobile crews make trips in case of threat to life or health, the response time varies from 20 minutes in Bakhmut city and district, to 3 hours in Popasna district. During the monitoring, only the crews in Bakhmut and Volnovakha continued to visit.

According to police, they react faster: within 15 minutes in the city and up to 45 minutes in rural areas. Patrol police units, representatives of the operative-investigative department or precinct officers usually go to the appeal.

Features of National Police law enforcement

The number of messages, as expected, does not match the number of compiled protocols. This is explained by the refusals of the victims to write statements. Some sources in police believe that legal sanctions are not an effective way to solve the problem, so they focus on resolving the conflict through conversations with the parties. They also find it a dead end to fine violators who are unable to pay due to lack of funds, thus committing another offense. The issue of unregulated location of the offender during the validity of the injunction was raised, which in some cases may raise doubts about the feasibility of its preparation. In Avdiivka, they noted: the fact that the offender has nowhere to go may well play in his favor, because the victims are more likely to forgive him and allow him to return. Police in the Volnovakha department complain about opposition from the prosecutor’s office, which requires them to conduct criminal investigations, while the nearest center is located in Slovyansk.

Impact of quarantine

Social service centers recorded a jump in the number of appeals and services provided: more consultations in Bakhmut and it’s district, increased attention to social support, focus on information and prevention programs in Bakhmut and Yasynuvata district. For the most part, the centers have switched to telephone or online counseling. Although the Toretsk Center has stopped receiving visits, in Volnovakha consultations are held in the open air.

Similarly, quarantine has affected the functioning of mobile teams: most of them work online or by phone. At the same time, not all cases of violence can be identified, because (1) some people prefer “live” communication, (2) temporarily suspended monitoring visits.

The police did not indicate any significant changes in their work, except for greater attention to preventive measures in Avdiivka and an increase in the number of appeals and urgent instructions issued in the Bakhmut department.

Alleged obstacles to countering and preventing violence

  1. Lack of a crisis center for women (shelter) in Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
  2. Lack of a mother and child center in Toretsk.
  3. Lack of staff: psychologist (Toretsk SSC), lawyer (Bakhmut district brigade), police officers in Volnovakha department and Toretsky department.
  4. Absence or lack of vehicles and fuel (Toretsk, Volnovakha, Popasna SSC; Bakhmut district brigade; Volnovakha department of NPU).
  5. Lack of means of self-defense in mobile teams in cases of collision with aggressive or drugged offenders.
  6. Low police awareness of the use of restraining orders.
  7. Lack of effective means and tools to work with malicious offenders in centers and teams.
  8. Lack of transport connection between Avdiivka and the court in Selydove.

This material was made possible by the significant support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Responsibility for the content rests on Right to Protection CF and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the Government of the United States.

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12.11.20

Video “Faces of statelessness. Roma” is the final in our cycle 5 stories. 5 faces of statelessness. At the same time, the final result – the complete elimination of statelessness as a phenomenon is still not achieved.

The video tells a story of two men: Marcus and Joseph, who have lived without documents all their lives and have become stateless as a result.

Click to view the story

More than 35,000 people in Ukraine are still living without any documents. They look forward to the very moment when they finally feel what it is like to be a citizen.


In support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Campaign to Combat Statelessness #IBelong (#Яісную) The Right to Protection CF tells stories of 5 different people who have faced the problem of statelessness in Ukraine. In fact, there are thousands of such stories across the country. And they all bring together completely different people who, under certain circumstances, live without documents. We want to address this issue and help solve it!

10.11.20

On November 5, 2020, the Right to Protection CF held a webinar for specialists and lawyers of the free secondary legal aid system in the northern and southern parts of the Donetsk region.

The event was e-attended by litigation consultant Sofia Marchenko, Dmytro Hanych, a regional lawyer in Slovyansk, litigation consultant Leonid Serafimovych, Yevhen Fedorinov, a regional lawyer in Bakhmut, and regional lawyer in the city of Mariupol Daria Subbotina.

During the discussion, which lasted almost 2 hours, colleagues raised a number of important and relevant questions, namely:

  • Land rights, opportunities and algorithm of free land acquisition, out-of-court and judicial methods of land disputes resolving;
  • Problematic moments in execution of court decisions on payment of pension arrears, legislative acts and government resolutions which regulate this issue;
  • Implementation of law for providing material assistance or compensation for destroyed housing from an emergency situation caused by the armed aggression of the Russian Federation;
  • Protection of debtors’ rights under credit obligations, their liability in case of non-compliance with the terms of the loan and future actions of lenders;
  • The procedure for crossing the line of demarcation for the period of quarantine restrictions.

After the experts’ reports, the participants had the opportunity to ask their questions, including on such difficult situations as moving through the Russian border due to the closure of the control checkpoints in Ukraine (which is illegal) and problems with land registration due to decentralization reform.

Full video recording of a webinar is available


The event was held by the lawyers of the Right to Protection within the framework of cooperation with the free secondary legal aid system, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ukraine.

09.11.20

To the:


President of Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Education, Science and Innovation

Serhiy Babak

To the Prime Minister of Ukraine

Denys Shmyhal

OPEN APPEAL

We, the Civil Society Sector Organizations, are deeply concerned with the protection of the rights of victims of the conflict, and appeal to you to finance programs and measures to ensure access to Ukrainian education for children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories for 2021.

In June, the President of Ukraine initiated amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education”, which provided the possibility to the applicants from the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions the right for free education with scholarships or preparatory courses to any institution of higher and vocational education in Ukraine lasting up to one year. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine supported the President’s initiative by 310 votes in favor.

The President of Ukraine and the Parliament have fulfilled their task of shaping the state policy on maintaining ties with young people in the occupied territories and ensuring their access to the Ukrainian educational space. Currently, all responsibility for the implementation of the Law rests on the Government of Ukraine, in particular, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (MESU).

However, the 2020 introductory campaign showed that in the absence of proper and timely information for entrants and their parents, the positive legislative changes were not implemented properly. That is why, this year, entrants from the occupied territories took only 1/6 of the quota for this category of budget places and mostly joined the very limited list of higher education institutions in which there were already educational centers last year.

If the simplified mechanism of admission of young people from the occupied territories to any higher education institution could be implemented this year, the new norm defined by Article 44 of the Law of Ukraine «On introduction of preparatory courses at universities for children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories» should come into force in year 2021. Such preparatory courses were to become not only the preparation of entrants to study in Ukrainian higher education institutions and programs but also a part of their adaptation to life outside of the propaganda, misinformation and pressure of the occupation, which in the same time will become the real implementation of the safe reintegration policy from the January 2021. Preparatory courses could become a real tool for access to education for children and youth from the occupied territories, who have not studied the history of Ukraine, Ukrainian language and literature for 7 years as well as they fear of being misperceived by students from other regions of Ukraine.

However, when preparing budget requests (according to the Ministry of Education of Ukraine website) for the formation of the draft budget for 2021, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine does not provide funding for preparatory courses (State Budget of Ukraine: Program 2201250 “Professional development of teachers and researchers in food, processing industry and agro-industrial complex, professional development of medical and pharmaceutical personnel”). There is a complete lack of funding and support for the organization of an information campaign and for the Government hotline for entrants to educational institutions (State Budget of Ukraine: Program 2201260 “National measures in the field of education”).

Back in February 2020, in the Budget Declaration for 2020-2022, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine provided 60.5 million for the financing of preparatory courses, hotlines and information campaigns, which was 0.16% of the total year budget of the Ministry.

However, as of today, these programs of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine have been reduced completely – to 0 UAH. In practice, this means that the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine is deliberately sabotaging the implementation of the current Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education”, depriving children from the occupied territories the opportunity to prepare for education and enter higher and vocational education institutions in Ukrainian-controlled territory.

The complete refusal of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to comply with the law and implement the policy initiated by the President of Ukraine and Parliament towards children and youth from the occupied territories will lead to their further integration into the cultural and educational space of the Russian Federation. The deliberate refusal to inform the inhabitants of the Temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and their children about these opportunities provided by Ukraine is short-sighted and, as a result, criminal, which harms the national processes of reintegration and deoccupation.

We, the Civil Society Organizations, are concerned with the protection of rights of the victims of conflict, and are forced to appeal to the President of Ukraine, the parliamentary committee and the Prime Minister in connection with the refusal of the MESU representatives to have a dialogue with the NGOs. We ask you, when finalizing the Draft Law on the State Budget of Ukraine for 2021, to take into account the need to finance preparatory courses for entrants from the temporarily occupied territories to comply with current legislation and support other measures for reintegration of youth from TOT.

We hope that the laws initiated by the President of Ukraine and supported by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine will not remain just words on paper or speeches from the tribune, but will be supported by appropriate actions and bring on all executive bodies, including the Ministry of Education and Science.

November 09, 2020

Vostok SOS CF

ZMINA Human Rights Center

“Almenda” Civic Education Center

DonbassSOS NGO

Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG)

NGO “Civil holding “GROUP OF INFLUENCE”

Stabilization Support Services in Ukraine CF

KrymSOS NGO

Right to Protection CF

Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv

Association UMDPL

M.ART.IN-club NGO 

Municipal Center for Humanistic Technologies “AHALAR”

Human Rights Vector NGO

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Human Rights House Crimea

Regional Center for Human Rights

Kharkiv Institute for Social Research

09.11.20

Zoya Yehorivna was born in 1954. The woman lived in Luhansk and worked in greenhouses. But it was only until 2014. When the armed conflict broke out, the woman was forced to move to Ukrainian-controlled territory. Unfortunately, Ms. Zoya lost her passport during the evacuation. At that time it was already extremely dangerous to return to the occupied city to try searching for it .

The woman tried to renew passport on her own, but was always refused by the Migration Service because she did not have any documents. Zoya Yehorivna had no relatives who could confirm her identity. In result, Ms. Zoya was not able to prove that she is a citizen of Ukraine, as all information about her place of residence and work remained in the temporarily occupied territories.

Zoya Yehorivna still strives to receive a passport. For her, this is not just a confirmation of identity, but also a document which is necessary to obtain medical services. The woman has problems with health, but due to lack of documents she cannot undergo treatment and register as a person with disability.

Today Ms. Zoya lives in her acquaintances house in Ukrainian village near the demarcation line. As the woman told our colleagues, she still believes that one day she will finally be holding her passport in hands.


In support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Campaign to Combat Statelessness #IBelong (#Яісную) The Right to Protection CF tells stories of 5 different people who have faced the problem of statelessness in Ukraine. In fact, there are thousands of such stories across the country. And they all bring together completely different people who, under certain circumstances, live without documents. We want to address this issue and help solve it!

09.11.20

The most effective way to solve struggles in a conflict world is to start dialogues between all sides. It is always a difficult and time-consuming process, but in the long run it allows consensus to be reached. 

Recently, the Right to Protection CF launched an extremely important Dialogues project. With the participation of professional facilitators (moderators), participants discuss various aspects of the environmental situation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, such as flooding of mines, deterioration of soils, mine gas emissions, etc. 

So far, six dialogues have taken place, and each such meeting helps people on both sides of the line not only to listen but also to hear each other to solve common problems.

«I am convinced that only inclusive dialogue can lead to lasting peace. Involving as many parties as possible in the reconciliation process will allow hearing and taking into account the views of people with different and even polar views on the situation, which is essential for stable social relations»,

– said project coordinator at Right to Protection CF Natalia Proskurenko.

Apart from the formal agreements, which are conducted with the participation of world political players, there are a number of other dialogue initiatives aimed at finding a solution to the situation with the conflict in Donbas. After all, being in their information bubble, politicians sometimes lose touch with ordinary people and do not feel their needs, and pressing issues often disappear from the agenda of high-level negotiations. Informal peacekeeping dialogues exist to create links between citizens with varying degrees of influence on the processes taking place in the country.

Environmental problems are almost always postponed. If left without attention those can have very tangible consequences. Such are the risks in the conflict-affected Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Closing and flooding of mines in the territory controlled and not controlled by the government of Ukraine can pose a serious danger to water bodies, soils and air, as well as to the health of local residents.

The participants of our dialogue project who are the experts in the field of ecology are trying to develop recommendations for joint action on both sides of the line of demarcation, in order to prevent the environmental catastrophe.

During the dialogues, environmental experts noted:

«For a long time, the development of our country has been characterized by unbalanced consumption of natural resources and with low priority of environmental issues. The root cause of Ukraine’s problems is the predominance of energy and resource intensive industries that have a negative impact on the environment. Coal mining regions of Ukraine have a high rate of industrial facilities: mining and processing, metallurgy, energy, chemicals, etc. These areas are also the most densely populated. Approximately 20% of the country’s population lives in the areas where mining operations are carried out, and the volume of housing construction in recent years has reached 30%. Intensive and long-term use of mineral resources in the coal basins of Ukraine has led to significant changes in the environment. The main factors of influence are: high concentration of mining companies in a small area, high level of production and lack of funding. The massive and almost simultaneous closure of coal mines and the destruction of the relevant infrastructure associated with the conflict have significantly upset the ecological balance, in turn leading to dangerous environmental changes in an area of ​​almost 30,000 km2. The main technical and environmental problems are: destruction of the underlying surface, soils and vegetation as a result of explosions and the use of military equipment; flooding of mines and the surrounding area and the possibility of outflow of mineralized mine water to the surface with the formation of flooded areas; groundwater pollution; almost complete cessation of treatment facilities and damage to radioactive and toxic waste storage facilities; pollution of the atmosphere and lithosphere by chemical products, which are formed as a result of ammunition explosions. As a result of the ongoing conflict in large areas of Eastern Ukraine, there is no practical possibility of conducting ecological monitoring of techno-ecosystems of industrial complexes of coal mining enterprises. Now Donbas is an anomalous region with high chance of mass flooding of the mines (up to 70%), which accelerated with the beginning of the armed conflict in 2014, is in a state of regional mostly uncontrolled rise of groundwater levels, subsidence and deterioration of environmental parameters».