Four years into the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, acute humanitarian needs persist. These include the basics – access to health care, food, water and employment. IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is appealing for USD 38 million to assist 340,000 people in critical need this year, an increase from the 215,000 people the Organization has assisted over the four years since the start of the conflict.
Since April 2014, over 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting in Eastern Ukraine and a further 24,000 have been injured. In total, 3.4 million people require humanitarian assistance. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy, about 1.5 million people are registered as internally displaced persons.
“Due to the protracted nature of the conflict, slow economic growth and increased social tensions, 2018 is a critical year for the crisis response efforts,” said Thomas Lothar Weiss, IOM Ukraine Chief of Mission. “We are working intensively with our partners in the Humanitarian Country Team and the Government of Ukraine to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development interventions. This is critical if we are to address the urgent and longer-term needs.”
The number of conflict-affected people in Ukraine who do not have enough food has almost doubled to 1.2 million people since 2016. Additionally, over three million people in the Eastern Conflict Area do not have sufficient water to drink, cook and wash with, as infrastructure has been damaged by the ongoing hostilities.
IOM’s humanitarian relief efforts will include water, health and sanitation, and rehabilitation of infrastructure in the non-government controlled area (NGCA), and winterization and hygiene assistance on both sides of the contact line. IOM will also provide cash transfers for the most vulnerable residents of the Government-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In addition to that, as a part of its recovery programme, IOM plans to further support internally displaced persons and their host communities through business training and grants. IOM’s economic empowerment programme will be expanded to include other vulnerable population categories, such as veterans of the current conflict.
IOM will also rehabilitate important critical and social infrastructure such as healthcare facilities, geriatric centres, and schools; host community events; and provide psychosocial assistance where needed.
The ongoing unrest has provoked an increase in human trafficking.
“Last year, we assisted over 1,200 victims of trafficking, nearly all of whom were trafficked and exploited during the years of conflict,” said Weiss. “The true numbers may be even higher. To alleviate risks and protect people from exploitation and abuse, we are focusing our anti-trafficking efforts on people living near the contact line.”
IOM’s National Monitoring System will conduct regular surveys among internally displaced populations and returnees on their situation, intentions and movements. This will inform strategic planning by Government counterparts, NGOs and the international community.