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18.09.20

Today we present the Mid-year (January – June 2020) EECP Survey Report. This report provides the results of the survey conducted at all five Entry-Exit Checkpoints (EECPs) with the non-government-controlled area (NGCA) in the first half of 2020. Due to quarantine restrictions, the report contains survey data from 1 January to 17 March.

Highlights of the report:

  • With the introduction of quarantine, since 17 to 22 March people could cross only in the direction of their residence registration – NGCA or GCA. On 22 March, EECPs suspended operations, and slightly over 14,000 persons have received permission to cross since then.
  • On 9 June Ukraine announced the reopening of EECPs in Donetsk oblast on 10 June, after closing them for almost three months. Meanwhile, by the end of June, the other four EECPs remain closed with limited exceptions, since the de facto authorities of NGCA side have banned the crossing of contact line on the NGCA side. However, since the beginning of quarantine there have been several so-called “corridors” at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP (Luhanska oblast) according to pre-agreed lists.
  • Admission to higher education institutions for students from NGCA has been heavily affected by quarantine restrictions. Over 300 students have been allowed to cross the contact line while about one thousand have applied for passing an External Independent testing (EIT) since 16 June. The recently adopted law seeks to improve the situation: children from NGCA will be able to enroll in Ukrainian universities without passing EIT and have the opportunity to study in all universities.
  • People who crossed to GCA faced numerous difficulties with installing the app “Act at Home” on their phone. In particular, people with older phones and/or Kyivstar sim-cards were troubled a lot with technical issues. Insufficient Wi-Fi at Novotroitske also complicated the issue. Besides, representatives of State Border Guard Service (SBGS) at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP required that people confirm their place of self-isolation and upload a reference photo directly at the EECP that led to geolocation issues later. People who could not install the app have been placed in an SES tent to resolve those issues the following day, or they have been sent for observation.
  • In turn, people from Donetsk NGCA are supposed to have residence registration (“propiska”) in GCA to be eligible to cross the checkpoint. Also, people are required to sign a document of non-return to the NGCA side until the end of the quarantine there. Additionally, people crossing to NGCA are to be sent for a 2-week observation without any alternative options of self-isolation regime.
  • The implementation of coronavirus-related quarantine procedures caused a dramatic reduction in crossings. People in NGCA are unable to receive their pensions, social benefits, birth/death certificates, buy drugs, etc. Residents of GCA who left for any personal issues on the NGCA side before the introduction of the quarantine, also cannot return home. Family unity and access to the place of residence or place of treatment are also issues for a number of people.
  • In the period 1 January to 17 March, 67,134 vulnerable elderly persons were provided with transport support at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP by Proliska’s electric vehicle. As of 17 March, transportation services were suspended due to the quarantine measures. Most services suspended their work between 17-20 March at all EECPs: the Coordination Group representatives, INGO medical representatives, and transportation including a social bus at Stanytsia Luhanska. In June, e-vehicle services resumed, the total number of people transported in six months was 69,405.
  • R2P monitors reported five fatalities that took place on the GCA side in the first half of 2020 and according to information from public sources one fatality on the NGCA side. The preliminary causes of death in most cases were related to heart problems.

EECP Survey Report is available in English and Ukrainian.

14.09.20

In 2019, our efforts primarily focused on the delivery of skilled legal aid to all major beneficiary groups, such as internally displaced persons and victims of the armed conflict in the east of the country, stateless persons, refugees, and protection seekers. 2019 will also be remembered for new ideas and projects, events that made us respond fast, relying not only on experience but also on the capacity to analyse and predict.

07.09.20

CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) continues its work as a member of the 3P Consortium. Despite all quarantine restrictions introduced in March, R2P has continued to engage stakeholders for further discussions on industrial and environmental risks. To make such discussions deeper and productive, R2P has joined forces with technical consultants who are experts in risks inherent specifically to Donbas.

Read more about it in the new edition of Consortium`s newsletter here.

30.08.20

Repeatedly beaten by separatists in temporarily occupied Donetsk, Hennadii refused to join the war, so they burnt his identity documents; he spent years at-risk of statelessness, and he nearly died several times. 

Hennadii Orlov now lives in Sloviansk; he recently got his Ukrainian passport. For three years leading up to this point, he was on the verge of statelessness — he had nothing to prove who he was, or even the simple fact that he was a citizen of Ukraine. The journey to get to this point — to be recognized as a citizen of Ukraine, living in Ukraine — nearly killed him. Right to Protection (R2P), a legal advocacy non-profit in Ukraine, recently helped Mr. Orlov prove his identity and re-obtain his documents and his legal status as a Ukrainian citizen. 

Hennadii is turning 40 this year. He was born in Horlivka — 90 minutes by car northeast of Donetsk City, and an area currently under occupation by the Russian backed authorities of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic.’ Horlivka, much like most of Donetsk Oblast, is a region in decline—formerly a heart of industry and mining, and now a conflict zone pockmarked by abandoned factories that once provided steady jobs and shuttered mines that once made Donetsk the wealthiest province in the country. But Hennadii never reaped much advantage from the past industriousness of his home because his family was poor, and his parents passed away when he was young, and he has dystrophy in his right hand which makes it hard for him to perform the physical tasks required in the factories and the mines. He always struggled to find steady work, and this persistent challenge eventually led to some bad choices and a jail sentence in Luhansk. 

After serving his time, Hennadii returned home just in time to witness the pro-Russian separatists seize Horlivka’s municipal buildings at the beginning of their occupation. Then, in July of 2014, he witnessed the Battle of Horlivka in which the Ukrainian government attempted to retake the city. The battle lasted over a month and reportedly killed hundreds of civilians and devastated the city, but it made little impact on the demarcation lines. The Ukrainian government and the city’s de facto authorities signed a ceasefire on September 5th of that year, and the separatists maintained control of Horlivka. 

The Battle of Horlivka strained the capacities of the separatists, and as the war dragged on and on, it became critical for them to begin recruiting local civilians into their ranks. In the following years, Hennadii was regularly threatened and robbed by the local militias, and several times he was beaten within an inch of his life. Time and again, however, Hennadii refused to join the fighting. One night in December, 2017, the militia once again broke into his house to threaten and rob him, but this time they also burned his passport. 

After that, Hennadii’s wife and children fled to government-controlled areas where they moved in with her brother in Svyatohirsk. Hennadii couldn’t accompany them because he didn’t have the documents required to cross through the checkpoints. Instead, he says, he crossed illegally — traversing a minefield where he almost set-off a landmine. 

After getting into government-controlled areas, Hennadii travelled to Sloviansk, where he moved in with a friend. His difficulties were far from over, however, because he couldn’t get a job or receive any government assistance because he technically didn’t exist: “I didn’t have anything!” He recalls. “I only had an address in [non-government controlled Donetsk]. They were looking at me like I was a stupid person!” 

After having been on his own for years — with no work, no government assistance, and living apart from his family — Hennadii was despaired by the time he heard about Right to Protection’s legal services. He heard about them through a friend, and he immediately reached out to a local R2P office by phone. Protection Attorney Nataliia Ishchenko took him on as a client, and by the summer of 2019 they were able to obtain Hennadii’s birth certificate. Then, in April of 2020, he got his Ukrainian passport. 

Things still aren’t easy for Hennadi. His wife is working at a kindergarten in Svyatohirsk, but he can’t find work there, so he’s still in Sloviansk. He now has the documents he needs to obtain legal employment, but coronavirus added a layer of complication — very few companies are hiring, and he faces the uphill battle of getting a job after such a long employment gap. However, he remains hopeful, because his situation has improved: “I don’t know how I survived the past 3 years… If not for my friend, who helped me with housing, food and some small side-jobs, I would have probably died from hunger or have gone back to prison.” He’s still worried about providing for his family, but at least, he says, he has his documents. Now he’ll be legally allowed to marry his wife, and — when the opportunity arrives — he’ll be allowed to accept legal employment… At least he now legally exists. 

02.07.20

UNHCR representation in Ukraine invites to join the Community Support Initiatives (CSI) project. If you are an asylum seeker or a refugee and have an idea of the project that would benefit your community—check this out!

UNHCR representation in Ukraine and its Partners in the regions announce the start of the Community Support Initiatives (CSI) project. Community Support Initiatives are ideas of projects that are brought by members of communities with the aim of promoting awareness of their rights and the suggestions of the communities on improvements/changes to their current situation.

The start of the application project is today, July 1st! The end of the application project is on September 15th, 2020.

Pay attention! The sooner your active group submits the project, the sooner you’ll receive feedback and can start with its implementation! Because real changes start with each of us; and if we unite our efforts we will make the change happen quicker and more effectively.

You can discuss your idea and the application process with UNHCR Partners in different locations:

Kyiv: Rokada (Благодійний фонд “Рокада”). Address: 7 Chumaka Str., Tel: 044 501 56 96.
Odesa: The Tenth of April (Десяте Квітня). Address: 15 Heroiv Krut Str., office 511. Tel: 093 662 85 24.
Kharkiv: Right to Protection (Право на захист). Address: 85 Chernyshevska Str., Tel: 099 507 90.
Lviv and Zakarpattya: NEEKA Ukraine. Address: 3 Michurina Str., Mukachevo, Tel: 03131 321 22.

Please inquire for the details at the Organizations listed above depending on your location. They will explain the requirements and selection process, as well as help you develop your project idea.

23.06.20

The report «Crossing the contact line» provides the results of the survey conducted at all five Entry-Exit Checkpoints (EECPs) with NGCA in 2019.

The objective of the survey is to explore the motivations and concerns of the civilians travelling between the non-government-controlled areas (NGCA) and the government-controlled areas (GCA), as well as the conditions and risks associated with crossing the contact line through EECPs.

Highlights:

  • In comparison with 2018, the share of respondents who did not raise any concerns related to the crossing process increased at all EECPs except Novotroitske. The improvement may be related to the reconstruction of EECPs, which sufficiently improved the waiting conditions: installation of waiting terminals, passport control booths, toilets, and sheds.
  • 1,363 respondents (5%) mentioned cases of not being able to cross the contact line in the six months prior to their interview. The vast majority 1,086 (3,98%) of these cases were caused by the lack of permits in the SBGS database.
  • 38 fatalities reportedly took place at EECPs in 2019, including 16 deaths on NGCA side (information from social media and OSCE reports) for which the data cannot be confirmed. The preliminary causes of death in most cases in GCA were related to heart diseases.

The report is available in English and Ukrainian.

The survey is a part of the monitoring of violations of rights of the conflict-affected population within the framework of the project «Advocacy, Protection and Legal Assistance to the Internally Displaced Population of Ukraine» implemented by CF «Right to protection» in partnership with and with financial support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

18.06.20

During the period of quarantine restrictions, thousands of people have been trapped on both sides of the contact line. Most of those people who had justified reasons and all the necessary supporting documents for crossing, could not pass home, to their families, work, etc. Despite the efforts from different human rights organizations to help people to enjoy the freedom of movement very few managed to cross.

On 9 June, the Headquarters of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) reported that from 10 June two out of five EECPs, namely Stanytsia Luhanska (Luhansk oblast) and Marinka (Donetsk oblast), would resume their work.

However, as of 15 June, the problem of freedom of movement across the contact line remains unresolved:

  1. in Donetsk oblast EECPs operate only from the government-controlled area (GCA) side;
  2. in Luhansk oblast the passage was allowed only on 13–15 June according to the lists, which order of formation remains opaque and incomprehensible to the public;
  3. there is no information from the official authorities of Ukraine on the prospects of resumption of normal operation of the EECPs and the progress of negotiations with the Russian Federation and the de facto authorities on the non-government-controlled area (NGCA) on this issue.

It is also worth noting that during this period in Stanytsia Luhanska, 34 children, who intended to pass the trial external assessment on 15 June, passed through the EECP. But the Cabinet of Ministers canceled its attendance-based conducting at the last minute

Detailed overview of the events at EECPs in the period from 10 to 14 June you may find in CF “Right To Protection” digest, which is available in English and Ukrainian

03.06.20

For better action in the future, it is time to reflect on the achievements of the 3P Consortium, created by ACTED in 2019 to Prevent, Prepare and Protect (3P) communities and infrastructure from risks of industrial and ecological disasters in Eastern Ukraine.

Read more about 3P Consortium achievements since the beginning of 2020 in the Consortium newsletter available here.

01.06.20

Starting from March 22, 2020, quarantine restrictive measures have been introduced in Ukraine to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). These restrictions, in particular, provided for the partial suspension for the people to cross through the checkpoints on the contact line and the administrative border with the temporarily occupied territories. The first restrictions on passing came into force on March 7 for the checkpoints located on the contact line with the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, on March 16, in accordance with the order of the Commander of the Joint Forces, new restrictions on crossing the contact line were imposed on the checkpoints with the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and on March 22 the crossing of the contact line was stopped in both directions.

Since May 11, a gradual lifting of quarantine measures has started in Ukraine. However, according to the plan announced by the Prime Minister of Ukraine in April, there is no information about opening the EECPs. This situation makes one think that the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine are beyond the scope and attention of the Government of Ukraine.

Read the Coalition position on reversal of quarantine restrictions entering and exiting the temporarily occupied territories. The recommendations were developed by experts from non-governmental organizations that are members of the informal Coalition of Organizations Dealing with the Protection of the Rights of Victims of Conflict.

The document is available in English and Ukrainian.